Case Exercise: Toxic Exposure-Related Illness: Causation, Diagnosis, and Permanent Impairment
Frederick Fung
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Abstract

A diagnosis of toxic-related injury/illness requires a consideration of the illness related to the toxic exposure, including diagnosis, causation, and permanent impairment; these are best performed by a physician who is certified by a specialty board certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine. The patient must have a history of symptoms consistent with the exposure and disease at issue. In order to diagnose the presence of a specific disease, the examiner must find subjective complaints that are consistent with the objective findings, and both the subjective complaints and objective findings must be consistent with the disease that is postulated. Exposure to a specific potentially causative agent at a defined concentration level must be documented and must be sufficient to induce a particular pathology in order to establish a diagnosis. Differential diagnoses must be entertained in order to rule out other potential causes, including psychological etiology. Furthermore, the identified exposure at the defined concentration level must be capable of causing the diagnosis being postulated before the examiner can conclude that there has been a cause-and-effect relationship between the exposure and the disease (dose-response relationship). The evaluator's opinion should make biological and epidemiological sense. The treatment plan and prognosis should be consistent with evidence-based medicine, and the rating of impairment must be based on objective findings in involved systems.

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