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Laura Welch

Abstract

More than 15 million Americans have allergic rhinitis alone, and approximately 12 million have other allergic manifestations such as urticaria, angioedema, eczema, or sensitivity to food, drugs, or insect bites. Almost 10% of patients who seek care at a physician's office do so for one of the common allergic diseases, but rating impairment for allergic disorders is uncommon because typically they do not produce “permanent” impairment and are not work- or liability-related. Section 9.3a, Respiration in Chapter 9, Ear, Nose, Throat, and Related Structures, of the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (AMA Guides) addresses the process of assessing impairment due to allergic rhinitis, the first type of allergy. Because allergic rhinitis is seasonal, the examiner must determine if permanent impairment is present and if the patient is at maximum medical improvement. The second major manifestation of allergy is allergic skin disease, including urticaria-angioedema and is discussed in Chapter 13, The Skin, where a table classifies skin disorder impairments. The third primary manifestation of allergic disease is eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, which also is discussed in Chapter 13. Allergic diseases are common but generally are quite treatable. Evaluators should ensure that the patient has had an appropriate trial of therapeutic agents before assigning a permanent partial impairment; because of treatment options, the latter should be rare.

in AMA Guides® Newsletter
Laura Welch

Abstract

Functional capacity evaluations (FCEs) have become an important component of disability evaluation during the past 10 years to assess an individual's ability to perform the essential or specific functions of a job, both preplacement and during rehabilitation. Evaluating both job performance and physical ability is a complex assessment, and some practitioners are not yet certain that an FCE can achieve these goals. An FCE is useful only if it predicts job performance, and factors that should be assessed include overall performance; consistency of performance across similar areas of the FCE; consistency between observed behaviors during the FCE and limitations or abilities reported by the worker; objective changes (eg, blood pressure and pulse) that are appropriate relative to performance; external factors (illness, lack of sleep, or medication); and a coefficient of variation that can be measured and assessed. FCEs can identify specific movement patterns or weaknesses; measure improvement during rehabilitation; identify a specific limitation that is amenable to accommodation; and identify a worker who appears to be providing a submaximal effort. FCEs are less reliable at predicting injury risk; they cannot tell us much about endurance over a time period longer than the time required for the FCE; and the FCE may measure simple muscular functions when the job requires more complex ones.

in AMA Guides® Newsletter
Laura Welch

Abstract

The main function of the skin is to protect the body that it encloses. Anatomically and physiologically, the skin's regions differ to the extent that skin is not one organ but a combination of multiple systems. The skin has a limited range of reaction patterns, but these may express a wide range of clinical syndromes. The AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (AMA Guides) states that the morphology of the lesion and the pattern of distribution suggest the differential diagnosis. Skin lesions can be characterized as macule, papule, change in pigmentation, plaque, erythema, or eczema. The evaluating physician should consider relevant characteristics, including: Is the condition localized or generalized? Does in involve the face or spare it? Does the condition involve or spare the palms and soles? Approximately 95% of occupational skin disease involves contact dermatitis from irritation, contact allergy, or both. The remaining instances usually arise from biological, physical, mechanical, or other miscellaneous causes. The AMA Guides directs the evaluating physician to complete a detailed work description and conduct a physical examination with biopsy or patch testing as needed. Because most cases of occupational contact dermatitis involve irritants, a systematic approach to examination of the skin and use of good dermatology tests can pinpoint the diagnosis in the majority of cases.

in AMA Guides® Newsletter