Accuracy Of Medical Data On WTC Emergency Workers Questioned

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Some experts have raised concerns about the accuracy of medical dataon emergency workers who helped with recovery efforts after thecollapse of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, reported by aclinic at Mount Sinai Medical Center, the New York Times reports. The Irving J. Selikoff Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicineover the past six years has examined more than 15,000 workers andvolunteers and has overseen the examination of an additional 5,000workers at other clinics as part of the WTC Medical Monitoring Program, which has received $100 million from the federal government to track and treat those workers.

Accordingto some experts, clinic physicians -- who have published the largestand most often cited study of medical data on the workers and havetestified before congressional committees about health problems relatedto the WTC collapse -- have "presented their findings in ...scientifically questionable ways, exaggerating the health effects withimprecise descriptions of workers' symptoms and how long they might besick." Some experts also maintain that, for years after the WTCcollapse, the clinic lacked adequate resources and time to collectmedical data on the workers properly, and that, as a result, "itsusefulness may be limited," the Times reports.

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Inaddition, some experts have raised concerns that clinic physicians have"allowed their advocacy for the workers to trump science by makingstatements that go beyond what their studies have confirmed," accordingto the Times.

Response

According to the Times,clinic physicians acknowledge that "their efforts were troubled" butmaintain that they had to address an "unprecedented epidemiologicalchallenge with too little money, too few records and too little time toplan properly." Philip Landrigan, a clinic physician and founder, said,"I'll accept that we could have done some things better, and there'salways room for improvement," adding, "You can collect facts and berock-solid certain about those facts, but you know quite well thatthose facts are only a piece of the puzzle. The intellectual questionthen is: 'Do I have enough information to issue a call for action?'"

JacquelineMoline, director of the WTC programs, said, "If our advocacy hasbrought in people and we've saved their lives because we've identifiedhealth problems, whether they're World Trade Center-related or not,I'll take that any day of the week," adding, "And if that's our epitaph-- that we talked loudly and we brought people in for health care -- sobe it" (DePalma/Kovaleski, New York Times, 9/7).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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