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Occupational health physicians: unwilling or unable to practise ethically

Murlidhar V


David Kern discovered a cluster of cases of interstitial lung disease among employees of Microfibres Inc. a synthetic textile manufacturing company in Rhode Island. Dr Kern was head of the department of occupational and environmental health at Brown University’s school of medicine, Rhode Island, USA. At first accepted as consultants by the plant management, the team met increasing resistance to its efforts as it uncovered evidence of work-related causes of the disease and attempted to communicate its findings to both workers and the union. Ultimately the plant’s management dismissed the occupational medicine team and threatened legal action if it presented or published its scientific findings.

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