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Surveying Resident and Faculty Physician Knowledge, Attitudes, and Experiences in Response to Public Lead Contamination

Taylor, D. Kay PhD; Lepisto, Brenda Lovegrove PsyD; Lecea, Nicolas; Ghamrawi, Ranine MD; Bachuwa, Ghassan MD; LaChance, Jenny MS; Hanna-Attisha, Mona MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001562
Perspectives

Environmental health crises can appear anywhere and without warning. After research revealed a significant incidence of elevated pediatric blood lead levels following a water source change, Genesee County declared a public health emergency in Flint, Michigan. Hospital patients and family members began approaching Hurley Medical Center’s physicians with questions regarding the health implications of the lead contamination. Many of the physicians voiced concerns about responding appropriately to patient needs and increasing demands for information. As a result, a Hurley research team decided to conduct an informal survey across training programs to determine the need for added education.

Because of heightened patient anxiety, it was necessary for the timeline to progress quickly. In creating the survey, the team’s objective was to assess resident and faculty physician knowledge, attitudes, and experiences concerning lead contamination. The results revealed a critical need for supplementary training. Therefore, Hurley embarked on an education campaign for its graduate medical education programs, benefiting physicians and patients alike.

Patient and physician needs may change drastically following an environmental health emergency. It is the duty of medical centers to ensure their clinicians are well equipped to confront such threats. As prompt treatment is often a key to positive health outcomes, the authors stress the importance of acting quickly and suggest conducting informal surveys to identify gaps in physician knowledge. Likewise, the authors encourage medical educators nationwide to examine their environmental health curricula. It appears lead-contaminated water is not just a Flint problem but may have far-reaching implications for many cities.

D.K. Taylor is director of research, Hurley Medical Center and Michigan State College of Human Medicine, Flint, Michigan.

B.L. Lepisto is internal medicine director of psychosocial communication, Hurley Medical Center and Michigan State College of Human Medicine, Flint, Michigan.

N. Lecea is research coordinator, Hurley Medical Center and Michigan State College of Human Medicine, Flint, Michigan.

R. Ghamrawi is an internal medicine resident, Hurley Medical Center and Michigan State College of Human Medicine, Flint, Michigan.

G. Bachuwa is internal medicine residency program director, Hurley Medical Center and Michigan State College of Human Medicine, Flint, Michigan.

J. LaChance is research coordinator, Hurley Medical Center and Michigan State College of Human Medicine, Flint, Michigan.

M. Hanna-Attisha is pediatric residency program director, Hurley Medical Center and Michigan State College of Human Medicine, Flint, Michigan.

Funding/Support: None reported.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: The authors received an exemption from Hurley Medical Center’s institutional review board on February 9, 2016.

Correspondence should be addressed to D. Kay Taylor, Hurley Medical Center, One Hurley Plaza, Flint, MI 48503; e-mail: kaytaylor@hurleymc.com.

© 2017 by the Association of American Medical Colleges