Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Concerns Over Biased Experts in Asbestos Lawsuits

05.08.2004


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 study’s 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.


The study was performed by Drs. Joseph N. Gitlin and Elizabeth Garrett-Mayer of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, together with Leroy L. Cook and Otha W. Linton. The editorial was written by Dr. Murray Janower of Wellesley, Mass., past chairman of the American College of Radiology Committee on Ethics, and Dr. Leonard Berlin of Skokie, Ill., author of a leading book on radiology and the law. Dr. Gitlin and Mr. Linton will discuss their findings in a telephone press conference on Wednesday, August 4, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

"The magnitude of the differences between the interpretations by initial [plaintiffs’] readers and the six consultants is too great to be attributed to interobserver error," the study authors asserted. "There is no support in the world literature on x-ray studies of workers exposed to asbestos and other mineral dusts for the high level of positive findings recorded by the initial readers in this report."

Federal programs providing for workmen’s compensation for coal miners and asbestos workers require medical evidence of changes in the lungs that can be attributed to occupational dust exposures. Chest x-rays, which can be interpreted by more than one reader, are considered the most objective type of evidence. Physicians interpreting occupational chest x-rays are required to follow the International Labor Office (ILO) classification system, which uses a 12-point scale to describe the presence and extent of dust in the lungs. Small bright spots (opacities) on x-rays may represent scars in the lung from asbestos, coal, silica, or other mineral dusts.

A separate federal program, administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, provides a test for physicians to qualify as expert readers, termed "B-readers." In the new study, both the plaintiffs’ experts and the independent panel were qualified B-readers.

The ILO system allows readers to state that a film is completely free of any adverse changes. The plaintiffs’ readers asserted that every one of the 492 films showed some harmful change. In contrast, the review panelists said that only 37.9 percent were completely free of adverse changes.

"There is less than one chance in 10,000 that the difference noted between the two groups of readers is due to chance alone," the study authors asserted. The authors of the editorial pointed out that many past studies have reported interobserver disagreements, some as high as 30 percent. "However, the fact is that none of these previously published studies have shown variations to the same extent " as the new study.

The study "raises considerable concern as to whether interpretations of chest radiographs rendered by B-reader radiologists acting as expert witnesses and offered as testimony in asbestos-related litigation is non-partisan and clinically accurate," wrote Drs. Janower and Berlin. "The article contains data that is as disquieting as it is startling."

*Gitlin JN, Cook LL, Linton OW, Garrett-Mayer E. Comparison of “B” readers’ interpretations of chest radiographs for asbestos related changes. Academic Radiology 2004;11:843-856.

†Janower ML, Berlin L. “B” Readers’ Radiographic Interpretation in Asbestos Litigation: Is Something Rotten in the Courtroom? Academic Radiology 2004;11:841-842.

| newswise
Further information:
http://www.elsevier.com
http://www.academicradiology.org
http://www.aur.org

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified
20.02.2017 | Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

nachricht Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain
20.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>