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The Importance of Not Being Abbreviated: The meaning of A.R.F. to the V.A

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Does A.R.F. on a death certificate stand for Acute Renal Failure or Acute Respiratory Failure?

We all use abbreviations, but not all of us know the dangers of using them with impunity. Use of a wrong, or confusing, abbreviation can lead to serious consequences indeed:

Oregonlive story, from the Argus: “My life has just dissolved” Cherry Grove woman says abbreviation on death certificate caused dog problems,” Friday, May 02, 2008, by Nick Christensen, The Argus:

Article excerpt:

“Carolyn Ohlhauser had a plan for her property, had the money down to do it – and then got lost in a maze of paperwork that started with three letters and ultimately ends in Washington, D.C.

Those letters, A.R.F., caused two years of frustration that recently climaxed with a raid on her property by sheriff’s deputies and animal control officers.

But Ohlhauser is no closer to the end of her problem, convincing the Department of Veterans Affairs about the true meaning of A.R.F.

Terry Ohlhauser was a Vietnam veteran, serving seven or eight months there, as Carolyn Ohlhauser recalled, before returning home.

While he was there, he was exposed to Agent Orange, an herbicide used to defoliate forests and diminish cover for Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War. The chemical was later found to cause Type-II diabetes.

“Ten days after I was told he could live up to five more years, he went into kidney failure,” Carolyn Ohlhauser said.

Terry Ohlhauser died in May 2006 at the age of 58, of acute renal failure.

His doctor, Carolyn Ohlhauser said, wrote A.R.F. on his death certificate.

“The examiners took it to mean acute respiratory failure,” Ohlhauser said. “What the VA takes ownership of for Agent Orange is Type-II diabetes….” (read full article)

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