Why are the BP victims still complaining 9 years later?
There is no question that there would be long-term health effects as BPs own lawyers pointed out in court. They said it may take years for latent injuries such as cancer to develop years later after exposure. Even the recommendations in the 2010 Presidential Commission's investigative report on page 192 pointed out:
“The long-term health impacts of oil spills remain largely uncertain”. “However, the focus on long-term research cannot overshadow the need to provide immediate medical assistance to affected communities, which have suffered from limited access to healthcare services.”
- So the feds funded millions to establish the Gulf Long-term Follow-up Study (GuLF STUDY), the largest study ever conducted on the potential health effects associated with an oil spill to examine how different aspects of oil-spill response and clean-up may affect current and future health.
- BP committed $500 million to establish the GoMRI to investigate the impacts of the oil, dispersed oil, and dispersant on the ecosystems to understand the dynamics of such events and the associated environmental stresses and public health implications. funding 331 institutions with established scientific teams, with 28 in Louisiana.
Yet no group can even provide medical advisories or answer victims health questions. Even after the Louisiana State Senate passed resolution #16 to encourage BP to do so last May 2018.
So I pursued my learning curve to find out what the disconnect was in the medical profession, I approached multiple doctors at our local hospitals for answers but they said they were not permitted to comment on public matters. So I scheduled a meeting with Dr. Raoult Ratard who serves as the Louisiana Office of Public Health Chief. His answer was to remove his prosthetic leg and place it on the table to show me that everyone had misery. I also reached out the Dr. Dale Sandler of the Gulf Study to address victim questions at a town hall but she declined. So did the governor's office. Finally, I met Dr. Michael Harbut who was the expert witness approved in the BP settlement.
PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIANS
The story goes back to the acute injuries that occurred in the beginning when most workers did not receive proper safety equipment, and/or the equipment was not effective, and many reported they were instructed to not even wear equipment. They received little to no training, and were not properly informed of the potential health consequence. The Corexit dispersement turned the polyaromatic hydrocarbons into nano particles turning them into an aerosol. It was breathed in by the victims or came in contact their skin and it changed their DNA.
After April 20, 2010, physicians began seeing victims as patients with symptoms common-place to other illnesses. The United States was using the antiquated ICD-9 diagnosis codes at the time of the spill which did not list “chemical illness” as a diagnosis. It was available in the ICD-10 codes but was not adopted by Congress until 2015, even though this version was available before the spill. Therefore, this diagnosis was not available to physicians who then attributed the symptoms and treatments to other illnesses. No medical protocol advisory was ever issued to the medical community from BP, the state, or the federal government about how and when to suspect chemical exposure in their patients and how to treat it. In May 2018, the State of Louisiana senator's noticed this and passed the resolution #16 to highlight this failure and it was mirrored by Jefferson in December 2018.
Occupational and Environmental Medical Physicians (OEMP) are the specialists in this field. They study approximately 90,000 chemicals in the workplace, compared to few required by primary physicians. Many of their cases wind up in litigation because there is generally a responsible party involved. This causes them to be burdened with a lot of case research and testimony verses seeing patients. Other specialties get paid better so consequently, for all these reasons, OEMPs are in short supply. Furthermore, in Louisiana, there are requirements which prohibit an OEMP from out-of-state to practice here - few in Louisiana were available to meet the demand when the oil spill disaster occurred, according to Dr. Harbut.
He said chemical illness due to oil exposure causes cascading health effects that may become chronic, especially if not diagnosed and treated properly from the beginning. As years pass, people forget about their connection to BP and forget to tell their doctors this life saving information.
PERIODIC MEDICAL CONSULTATION PROGRAM (PMCP)
BP was required to fund a PERIODIC MEDICAL CONSULTATION PROGRAM (PMCP). The PMCP program entitled “qualified” class members to an initial consultation visit and a subsequent medical consultation visit once every 3 years, for a period of 21 years; It only allowed for a basic one-time diagnosis and covered only "primary care" issues, like colds or flus, basically excluding symptoms related to chemical exposure. Victims suffering and/or diagnosed after April 2012 did not qualify. Out of 27,472 PMCP enrollees, less than 3,500 physician appointments were scheduled.
Clinical Signs & Symptoms Exposure Chart
Your Health Care Provider will need to know what symptoms you are experiencing currently or have experienced in the past. Many common symptoms may be triggered by exposures to Oil-Chemical pollutants and other environmental health hazards. The linked chart provides examples of affected body systems and types of symptoms that someone with such exposures might experience. This cart was created by the AlertProject.Org which is associated with a team of people with first-hand experience – earned expertise – dealing with illnesses from exposures to Oil-Chemical pollutants and consequences of laws that protect corporate profits over human health and our environment.
Symptoms for Oil-Chemical exposures are identical to many common symptoms that are normally associated with other illnesses. They are also known to change over time based on a variety of circumstances. This confuses the patients and health care professionals (HCP)! It is best to see an Occupational and Environmental Medicine Physician, Medical Toxicologist, or a Preventive Medicine Specialists, but otherwise tell all health care professionals you worked on the BP oil spill, lived with a worker or lived near it.
- Ask your HCP if you should monitor your blood chemistry on a more frequent basis.
- Schedule bi-annual appointments with your dermatologist
- Avoid infections and get them treated right away.
- If you get a fever or bleed go to the emergency room
- Get second opinions
- Keep a Symptom and Side Effect Journal for your doctor.
- Write your questions down as you think of them for your doctor visits.
- Educate yourself on your diagnosis.
Be aware of cancer symptoms
BP lawyers argued in court that they would put settlement money aside for latent manifestations such as cancer that take years to develop after exposure. Later is now. Ask your HCP what can be recommended to prepare for or prevent cancer. Some activities you can control that are also factors are:
- Drinking alcohol
- Idling vehicle, pesticides, smelling fumes while pumping gas. improper storage and disposal of harmful materials or chemicals.
- Obesity and poor diet.
- Forms of high-energy radiation such as x-rays.
- Exposure to UV radiation such as the sun.
- Tobacco use
Acute Myeloid Leukemia: Symptoms of leukemia may include fatigue, paleness, weight loss, repeated infections, fever, bleeding or bruising easily, bone or joint pain, and swelling in the lymph nodes or abdomen. These signs can appear suddenly in acute leukemia, whereas chronic leukemia typically progresses slowly with few symptoms and is often diagnosed incidentally during routine blood tests.
Multiple Myeloma, Lymphoma, Hodgkins/Non Hodgkins: The most common symptoms of lymphoma are caused by swollen lymph nodes, and include lumps under the skin, chest pain, shortness of breath, and abdominal fullness and loss of appetite. Other symptoms can include itching, night sweats, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, and intermittent fever.