For decades, Dr. Paul Wheeler has led a unit of radiologists at Johns Hopkins who often are enlisted by the coal industry to read X-rays in black lung benefits cases. The Center for Public Integrity identified more than 1,500 cases decided since 2000 in which Wheeler was involved, reading a total of more than 3,400 X-rays. In these cases, he never found a case of complicated black lung, and he read an X-ray as positive for the earlier stages of the disease in less than 4 percent of cases. Subtracting from these the cases in which he ultimately concluded another disease was more likely, this number drops to about 2 percent.
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