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Taking an Exposure History
What Instructions Should Be Given to Patients?

Course: WB 1109
CE Original Date: May 12, 2008
CE Renewal Date: May 12, 2011
CE Expiration Date: May 11, 2013
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Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this section, you will be able to

  • explain to the patients why they need to provide all the detailed information about their past and current exposures from their jobs and homes.


It is important for health care provider to know what exposures to potentially hazardous materials your patients have had in their life. To do this your patients need to tell about workplace exposures, exposures at home, and others they may have had.

Why Is an Exposure History Important

Unless an exposure history is pursued by the clinician, the etiologic diagnosis might be missed, treatment therefore may be inappropriate, and exposure can continue.

What to Ask Your Patients

Be sure to ask information about all past jobs, and chemicals and other exposures they may have had in those jobs. Also share information about household and neighborhood exposures.

Where Can Your Patients Get Information About Their Exposures?

There are many sources of information about materials to which your patients have been exposed, or to which your patients are currently exposed. There are many Federal government agencies with such information including ATSDR, NIOSH, OSHA and EPA. Universities and poison control centers may also be able to supply information about potential health hazards.

Key Points

  • Patients need to understand why an exposure history is important.

Progress Check

12. When providing exposure history information, a patient should tell

A.their current job and home information only
B.their past and current jobs and home environments
C.everything asked in an exposure history form, including general information about their work and home, specific information regarding their past and current employment, hobbies, and home and surrounding environments


To review relevant content, see Introduction in this section.

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