ABC News reported Johns Hopkins Medicine announced it has suspended and will review its controversial black lung x-ray review program after last week’s investigative report by the Center for Public Integrity, and the news outlet found radiologists there almost always denied x-ray evidence of black lung in coal miners seeking benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act.
One doctor examined 1,573 miners' black lung x-rays and not once did he diagnose the severe form of black lung that automatically qualifies for compensation. Incredibly, he frequently claimed the damaged lungs were the result of exposure to bird and bat feces.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the federal agency that certifies doctors to read black lung x-rays, said in a statement it was “deeply disturbed” by the allegations:
In light of the recent troubling reports, NIOSH applauds the decision of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to investigate its [black lung X-ray reading] service and offers whatever assistance we can provide.
The series also exposed how lawyers at Jackson Kelly PLLC, the go-to law firm for coal companies fighting miners' black lung claims, have routinely withheld medical evidence and the latest industry effort to defuse emerging scientific evidence and contain its liabilities..
Read AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s Huffington Post commentary on the investigation and his family’s experience with the disease.