Occupational & Environmental Medicine
Occupational and Environmental medicine is that branch of medicine that is
"devoted to the prevention and management of occupational and environmental
injury, illness, and disability, and the promotion of the health and
productivity of workers, their families and communities" (1). It is important to note that occupational disease looks, smells and tastes the same as non-occupational disease. The difference lies in the establishment of causation and its implications for treatment.
Physicians frequently miss the connection between work and disease. For example, every year, it is estimated that for every 1 case of recognized and reported occupational disease, there are about 8 times as many cases that go unrecognized or unreported. Recognition and remediation of relevant work/environment exposures will improve clinical outcomes in your patients and lead to decreased morbidity and mortality. The key to recognition lies in your history taking skills. Therefore, good medical practice dictates that you learn to obtain a thorough problem focused occupational/environmental history and integrate these skills into your clinical practice.