This article originally appeared in Connections, a magazine
published for physicians and the community by UMass Memorial Medical
|Sean Rhyee, MD, MPH, explains his
The UMass Memorial Medical
Center Division of Medical Toxicology has expanded its clinical services to
include a new Outpatient Toxicology Clinic. Open since November, the clinic is
the only one of its kind in Central Massachusetts staffed by board-certified
medical toxicologists, underscoring the role of UMass Memorial as the region's
tertiary referral center.
"While our division has been at UMass Memorial for a long time, our
consultation service previously was limited to the ED and inpatients with acute
exposure or illness," said Sean Rhyee, MD, MPH, assistant professor of emergency
medicine in the division. "Yet even without a formal clinic, and with no
advertising or promotion, patients were being referred to us from as far away as
upstate New York, and we would use the ED space to see them."
To serve these patients and fill a demonstrated need, UMass Memorial launched
a formal clinic. In the outpatient realm, most of the cases seen are due to
known or suspected exposure to substances encountered in the workplace. This can
include health problems related to lead poisoning, asbestosis and other
occupational lung diseases, heavy metal poisoning (arsenic, mercury), pesticides
and other chemical exposures, and adverse drug reactions. The clinic also
addresses concerns about household mold and other exposures.
"If a concern exists about exposure, we can evaluate it and help make a
definitive diagnosis," Dr. Rhyee noted.
"Part of our mission is also education," he said. "There's a lot of
misinformation and confusion out there about the risks of typical exposures, and
in many cases we can exclude toxicity as the cause of health issues. But if
there is anything of potential concern, we're happy to see that patient."
The clinic, located on the Medical Center's University Campus, is open on the
second Tuesday of each month, and accepts adult referrals only (pediatric
patients may be accepted in the future).