Digital X-Rays May Become Available In Black Lung Claims

A new final rule proposed by U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs (“OWCP”) updates the types of diagnostic tests available in evaluating claims of Black Lung Disease by coal miners under the Black Lung Benefits Act. Currently, film-based radiographs, or x-rays, are the only approved type of radiograph under the Act.  More after the break.

Over the past 20 years, film-based technology “has been rapidly replaced by digital radiography in medical facilities, so fewer physicians are conducting diagnostic testing with the older equipment,” according to Steven D. Breeskin, Director of the Division of Coal Mine Workers’ Compensation at the OWCP.

Fortunately, on June 13, 2013, the OWCP proposed a direct final rule and a companion rule allowing both film and digital x-rays in claims adjudication. Approving the technology will expand the number of physicians involved in diagnosing Black Lung Disease, and could mean more timely evaluations of claimants’ cases. Breeskin calls this a “big step forward” for the administration of claims filed by coal miners and survivors seeking benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act.

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