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Webinar : Role of Industrial Hygienists and Nurse Consultants

November 3, 2021

November 3, 2021

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The Department of Labor’s Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (DEEOIC) held a webinar on 10/27/21 to educate the stakeholders on the roles of the industrial hygienists (IH) and nurse consultants (NC). The direct employees of DEEOIC who participated, along with John Vance, Chief of the Policy Branch, in the webinar are:

  • Jeff Kotsch, Health Physicist and MHSU Supervisor
  • David Levitt, Certified Industrial Hygienist
  • Jeorge Hood, Certified Industrial Hygienist
  • Fran Downs, Registered Nurse Consultant
  • Reem Elbasha, Registered Nurse Consultant

The presenters shared their experience and qualifications, and stressed that they do their best to make sure that the reports they review or submit to the claims examiners (CE) are as claimant favorable as possible.

The IH team receive “tons” of reports from IHs who are contracted by DEEOIC. In 2021, 2,556 reports have been reviewed by DEEOIC. These reports determine the frequency, intensity, and duration of exposure to a toxic substance. The IHs review the Occupational History Questionnaire, employment records, and use their professional judgement when submitting their opinion on whether a worker would have received enough exposure to cause, contribute to, or aggravate a disease. Limiting the number of toxic substances an IH reviews speeds up the adjudication process.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has supplied some monitoring records for toxic substances from the Pantex Plant, Savannah River Site, and Rocky Flats. Some of the contracted IHs have worked at DOE facilities. The IHs directly employed by DEEOIC consult with the CE staff to determine which chemicals would be the likely culprit in the development of the claimed disease.

Along with IHs, Nurse Consultants are considered Subject Matter Experts. NCs provide medical analysis for requests for medical benefits but do not make the final decision. Not every benefits claim is reviewed by the NCs. Only those where the medical treatment or equipment may be questionable or if the Letter of Medical Necessity provided by the physician does not include a reasonable reason for the equipment or treatment or if the request is not related to the covered condition.

DEEOIC will not host Webinars in November and December. They will pick the outreach back up in January 2022. They should also know by next year whether in-person town hall meetings will be allowed.