Expert-witness physicians who specialize in interpreting chest x-rays for plaintiffs in lawsuits claiming asbestos-related injury greatly overstate their findings, compared with independent readers interpreting the same films without knowing their source, reports the August issue of Academic Radiology, published by Elsevier on behalf of the Association of University Radiologists.
In a study of 492 chest x-rays obtained by plaintiffs lawyers and entered as evidence in lawsuits against former employers, the original interpreters claimed to find evidence of possible asbestos-related lung damage in 95.9 percent of cases. In contrast, when the same x-rays were re-read by six unbiased physicians, the abnormality rate was only 4.5 percent.*
An accompanying editorial remarked on the studys possible impact on thousands of pending claims for billions of dollars against hundreds of companies.† More than 60 U.S. companies have taken voluntary bankruptcy to protect their assets against asbestos-related lawsuits.
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