Occupational Medicine in Germany: "Misleading Representation"?

Why nothing moves at "fume events" either

Preliminary remark:

The accusation of "organized misrepresentation" weighs heavily. None other but a former Federal Minister for Labor and Social Affairs has raised it: against 2 highly reputated occupational physicians. They had - deliberately - misrepresented medical connections. For the benefit of the "Berufsgenossenschaften" (Employer's Liability Insurance) for which they had worked regularly. One of them is the center of attention here: Prof. Dr. med. Gerhard TRIEBIG. His specialities: the organic solvent syndrome and polyneuropathy in general. It's an example for what is going on in the field of occupational diseases, and also concerning fume events.


The first fake known to us dates from 1983, when Prof. Dr. Gerhard TRIEBIG was 34 years old - a student/associate of the so-called Erlangen VALENTIN School (slso a former student/associate of the Erlangen VALENTIN School: Prof. Dr. med. Stephan LETZEL).

Dr. Gerhard TRIEBIG states in one of his expert witness reports:

"Goldmann (1972) and Thiess and Goldmann (1976) report on the occurrence of chloracne in 42 workers from trichlorophenol production. In five of the 42 cases of illness, damage to the nervous system was considered in addition to chloracne, although 'toxic polyneuritis' was present in only three cases. In these cases it is essential that the neurological symptoms were closely related to the accident."

The original says otherwise:

"Almost regularly, there was general fatigue and neuromuscular weakness. In seven cases, the CNS was clearly affected, three times with toxic polyneuritis and twice each with peripheral toxic damage to the hearing, olfactory and gustatory organs up to toxic disseminated encephalomyelitis with hemiplegic syndrome".

Comparison: TRIEBIG reduces numbers (7 becomes 5), leaves others out (42), plays down the damage, adds a "closely relation".

No prosecution

At the beginning of the 1990s, 26 affected employees filed criminal charges against Prof. Dr. med. TRIEBIG of the University of Heidelberg for "issuing incorrect health certificates" in accordance with § 288 StGB (German Criminal Code).

The public prosecutor's office in Heidelberg discontinued its investigations. Reasoning: "Insofar as it was possible to prove to the accused that he assumed incorrect facts in individual expert opinions, in some cases seriously, it must be assumed that he did not do so knowingly, but at most out of negligence, possibly caused by the large number of expert opinions he issued". And elsewhere: "Given the intelligence of the author, deliberate falsification is unlikely.

The "Berufsgenossenschaften" (Employer's Liability Insurance) are not bothered by such findings - they continue to use their proven expert who drives a Porsche.

Almost at the same time a judgment of the Social Welfare Court Gelsenkirchen: On page 5 it speaks of "numerous false statements" by the expert TRIEBIG. This is no reason for the employers' liability insurance associations (“BG”) not to continue using their proven expert.

In 1997, the Federal Minister for Labor and Social Affairs made the political decision to follow the recommendations of his "Medical Expert Council Occupational Diseases” (“ÄSVBR BK”), in which expert TRIEBIG also sat, and to put the new "BK 1317" on the “BK list”. One of his colleagues produces the "Merkblatt" of the" ÄSVB BK" for all doctors, TRIEBIG wrote the "Begutachungsempfehlungen" (recommendations) for the "BK-Report" of the GUV-System.

Misleading representation

In 2004, the bomb exploded: "Experts lead doctors astray" was the title of the now defunct Federal Minister in his "Public Statement". The former minister (Norbert BLÜM) does not mince his words, he does not speak of organized crime, he speaks of "organized misrepresentation”.

What is fake in the "Merkblatt" of the TRIEBIG colleague in the ÄSVBR BK, can also be found in the "BK-Report" of the GUV system. There, "scientific sources are given which contain exactly the opposite of what they are supposed to prove", the former Federal Minister of Labor certifies to the occupational physician TRIEBIG.

The official "information sheet" must be replaced. In a new edition of the "BK-Report" of the GUV system on BK 1317 in 2007, again under the responsibility of TRIEBIG, there is nothing different in the sense of what was written in 1999. No reason for the Employer's Liability Insurance Association to deviate from its proven expert.

Textbook "Arbeitsmedizin"

When TRIEBIG, together with two other colleagues, published its textbook "Arbeitsmedizin. Handbuch für Theorie und Praxis" (Occupational Medicine. Handbook for Theory and Practice) in 2008, which still contains what Norbert BLÜM scourged as a "misrepresentation" of the problem in question, the BGs are still not bothered by this misrepresentation; it is to their advantage when the authority to define and the monopoly on evaluation are in one hand, because this also allows the uniformity of the investigations and their evaluations to be controlled.

And in the next editions number three (2011) and four (2014) of the "Occupational Medicine" manual, the same will still be circulated.  No reason for German Occupational Disease Insurance System ("Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung") to abandon its proven expert. To this day, the "Berufsgenossenschaften (BGs)" still offer the occupational physician, who has been emeritus since 2014, as a consultant – the show must go on.