Proposed rule would allow providers to use technology to test for black lung
The proposed standard revisions are similar to those adopted for the Coal Mine Workers' Health Surveillance Program last year by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
The Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs is seeking public comment on the proposal for the Federal Black Lung Program.
Physicians evaluating whether a miner suffers from pneumoconiosis -- black lung disease -- use chest radiographs. The standards now in place address only film radiographs despite the increasing use of digital radiography in medical facilities. If adopted, the rule would allow both film and digital X-rays to be given equal importance in claims adjudication.
"Digital radiography enhances our ability to determine the presence of black lung disease in a timely manner for coal miners and their families, which will in turn allow us to reduce the time required to make decisions on benefit eligibility," said Gary A. Steinberg, acting director of OWCP. "By adding digital X-ray imaging to the current film technology, all parties benefit from an expanded list of approved diagnostic providers. It will also reduce OWCP's processing costs and give the parties greater access to modern medical technology."
By Nancy Grover
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 5, 2013
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