Promoting Best Practices for Clinical Care of 9/11-exposed MembersPosted on by
In September 2023, the nation observed the 9/11 Day of Remembrance to commemorate the tragic events that unfolded 22 years ago.
The memories and impact of 9/11 have not faded with time. Importantly, although it’s been over two decades since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many people continue to suffer from physical and mental health conditions arising from exposure to those attacks and their aftermath.
Also not fading with time is the commitment of the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program to those persons affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The WTC Health Program is administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The Program provides compassionate healthcare and advances best practices in the diagnosis and treatment of 9/11-related conditions. It also provides funding support to investigate the nature and extent of the adverse health effects arising from 9/11 exposures.
To promote and maintain high quality medical care for 9/11 responders and survivors, the WTC Health Program gathered all the articles in the Clinical Care Essentials series and placed them on the Program website. These peer-reviewed articles provide up-to-date information on best practices in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of 9/11-related conditions. Compiling and sharing this information will help ensure that persons affected by the 9/11 attacks will continue to receive high quality medical care.
The articles were authored by clinicians affiliated* with the WTC Health Program, including those employed either by WTC Clinical Centers of Excellence, the WTC Health Registry of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, or NIOSH. The series was published in the Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health.
Topics covered by the article series include, but are not limited to:
- 9/11 health care best practices
- Aerodigestive conditions including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and rhinosinusitis
- Mental health including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Cancer care and cancer screening
- Where to find Program enrollment criteria for persons to receive health care services from the WTC Health Program
In addition to promoting clinical best practices, the articles also remind clinicians about two important actions. First, clinicians should ask patients about 9/11 exposures, especially patients with cancer, respiratory symptoms, chronic rhinosinusitis, GERD, psychiatric symptoms, and substance use disorders. Second, because many persons simultaneously confront both physical and mental health conditions related to 9/11 exposures, a coordinated approach to health care for such persons usually works best. Such a coordinated delivery of care can be accomplished through referral to health centers affiliated with the WTC Health Program. Clinicians should consider referring their 9/11-exposed patients to one of those affiliated health centers.
In closing, thank you for your past, current and future efforts to help this brave community heal.
You can read the full Clinical Care Essentials series here.
Geoffrey M. Calvert, MD, MPH, is the Associate Director for Clinical Quality at the World Trade Center Health Program.
* The views expressed in these Clinical Care Essentials articles do not necessarily reflect the official policies or views of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or NIOSH; nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.