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Researchers Announce Disease Tracking Program

March 11, 1985

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Scientists have developed a $20 million computer system that will enable the Navy to monitor the long-term effects of chemicals on workers, officials say.

The program, known as the Naval Occupational Health Information Management System, or NOHIMS, will keep records on the 700,000 Navy enlisted and civilian employees, including where they work, what chemicals they are exposed to and their medical histories, said Dr. Thomas McManamon, head of occupational preventative medicine for the Naval Medical Command’s southwest region.

″It will permit us to know (how) to change precautions we might take for things we aren’t now aware of, things that cause lung problems, skin and nervous disorders,″ McManamon said. ″We will then be able to identify a hazard before it will kill people.″

The system also will save the Navy money in the long run by providing evidence to refute disability claims, said Dr. Eric Gunderson, head of the environmental medicine department at the Naval Health Research Center here, which developed the program.

When someone submits a disability claim and there’s no evidence to support the plaintiff, ″generally he wins by default,″ Gunderson said.In 1983, the Navy paid about $140 million in workers’ compensation.

The system is being tested with 6,000 employees at San Diego’s Naval Air Rework Facility on North Island and is expected to be used next year at some Navy shipyards. It should be fully operational by 1990, McManamon said.

If successful, it may be adopted by the Air Force and Army and could be a model for private industry.

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