Did emily violate the ih code of ethics by not disclosing the survey results to the homeowner?

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Originally published in The Synergist in October 2003
The Consultants Dilemma: Who Gets The Results
by Robert L Collins and Jeffrey M Stumpf
Emily began practicing industrial hygiene in 1993 after earning her graduate degree in environmental health. The curriculum not only prepared her for the industrial hygiene profession that also for work in the public health sector and including course work in microbiology and immunology, hazardous waste management, air pollution control, waste water and biostatistics. She began her career as an industrial hygienist with the county health department that allowed her to be involved in a wide variety of community health and safety concerns within five years she passed the industrial hygiene certification exam. Shortly thereafter, a well known and respected consulting firm recruited Emily as a senior industrial hygienist. The position required a transfer to Southern California, where she doubled the firm’s client base than a little over two years.When mold risk assessment and remediation became prominent, Emily won contracts with several property management firms and insurance companies perform the building assessments for potential mold contamination. Although she was familiar with mold for her graduate studies, she sought the advice of experts in the field. These included experts in the field of mycology as well as those within her company within her company who were responsible for overseeing asbestos remediation projects. To become better prepared to perform this work, she participated in mold risk assessment and remediation seminars sponsored by professional organizations.Because of her preparation and thorough work approach, She soon became known as the local expert in mold risk assessment and remediation projects . The amount of work had grown recently due to several new contracts with the insurance companies to perform inspections and surveys for mold and policyholder homes.A High Profile CaseDue to an unusually wet winter in the area, a number of homeowner submitted claims for mold contamination that impacted one insurance company specializing in property /casualty coverage. Many of the claims and also sought damages for personal injury due to alleged illnesses from exposure to mold toxins. One particular case involved a person who claim to suffer from severe respiratory distress due to exposure from extensive mold contamination throughout her home. This was a high profile claim that included media coverage, and the insurance company felt this could set precedence for future claims. The company contracted Emily to conduct a thorough inspection of the claimants home that included air sampling for molds spores and other contaminants related to the mold. During the inspection and sampling, the homeowner continuous and questioned Emily about the inspection and sampling methods used to evaluate the house. Emily would answer the questions in general terms, but not in specific detail; her experience with overanxious homeowners told her that they would could become even more worried about the mold contamination in their home is given too much technical information. Convince that mold contamination in her home was the source of her, the homeowner was also very inquisitive about how the sampling results are interpreted to determine the correct course for the remediation. Emily told the homeowner that she would receive the results from the insurance company in the near future, reassuring her that the outcome of the appropriate for the results.The Missing ReportBecause this was a high-profile claim, arrangements were made with the laboratory to have the air sampling media analyzed as soon as they were received. Once she received the results, Emily prepare the report without delay. As was her practice, the report was peer reviewed by others in the firm, including certified industrial hygienist and toxicologist, before she sent it to the client. The homeowner called daily to determine whether not the results and arrived and what Emily’s conclusions were going to be. Finally, the report was sent to the insurance company’s loss control department manager, the point of contact designated in the contract. The report resulting from this investigation as stated,” There was significant mold infestation in the house that may be attributed to the water damage sustained from flash flooding during the previous winters rainfall.” This conclusion was consistent with the meteorological records of one particular precipitation event. Sampling results indicated that the levels of mold spores and other biologically derived contaminants were higher than would normally be found in a home that had not been water damaged.As Emily was not a physician and there is no definitive guidance that building investigators can use to link elevated levels of mold spores and other biologically derived contaminants to disease in building occupants, the report did not attempt to link the elevated level elevated contaminant levels to observed to the homeowner’s illness. As was her practice, Emily contacted the client after forwarding her report to them to discuss the report and clarify any information. The client complement Emily on her work product and commented that future work with the insurance company would continue. The homeowner call shortly afterward, asking Emily if she received the results and what her conclusions were. Emily explained that the results had been forwarded to the client, and that she expected that they would provide a copy to the homeowner shortly. Although the homeowner insisted that she should receive the report, Emily gently held firm. Several days later, the homeowner contacted Emily again, stating the insurance companies lost control department had not return phone calls and that she would appreciate a copy of the report. Emily again reassure the homeowner that the report would come from the insurance company, surmising the possibility that they were viewing the results and determining their course of action. She did divulge the contents of the report to the highly anxious homeowner. Emily then phoned the loss control manager who told her that he would speak to his management about releasing the report to the homeowner. Weeks later, Emily received a formal letter from a legal firm alleging that she and the insurance company were attempting to withhold information to which the homeowner was legally entitled. The legal firm representing the homeowner further informed her that if the report was not forwarded to them within five days, they would file suit. Emily, shocked, immediately called the loss control manager and told him about the letter. She said this should be happy to forward a copy of the report. The loss control manager explained that that there would be a delay in forwarding the report to the homeowner because the claims department was reviewing all mold contamination claims carefully. He told Emily not to send the report to the homeowner reminding her that the firm’s contract was with the insurance company and that it should provide a basis for a legal defense. Emily’s next call was to firm’s legal department.
Did Emily violate the IH code of ethics by not disclosing the survey results to the homeowner?
Do not forget to meet the minimum 250 word Initial Post requirement and respond to at least two other posts with a substantive comments. (minimum of 3 replies total) The industrial hygiene code of ethics can be found in the course contents section and in chapter 1 of the text (pages 5 & 6).

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