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Doctor allegedly fails to diagnose black lung in miner

A miner who applied for federal benefits in 2005 had his claim denied by a judge in 2011. The claim was denied despite several doctors determining that he had severe black lung. According to reports, this was largely due to one doctor at Johns Hopkins University whose negative results superseded other opinions. The miner claimed that he was put on oxygen, slept upright in a chair and had trouble breathing due to the issue.

Proof that the man suffered from black lung came from an autopsy performed by another doctor. The X-ray program used to determine the negative reading for black lung at Johns Hopkins was then suspended, and the facility is currently in review.

The law states that miners who claim to have black lung can get a diagnosis from an approved doctor. However, the miner must also be looked at by a doctor of the company's choosing. While two doctors initially concluded that the man most likely had black lung, the second allegedly changed his report after receiving the opinion from the doctor who testified against the man.

Failing to diagnose an illness could be an example of medical malpractice in South Carolina. This could potentially lead to a lawsuit on behalf of the injured or deceased party affected. In court, a patient may receive compensation for medical bills, or the family of the decedent may receive compensation for final expenses if the failure to diagnose resulted in death. Those looking to file a lawsuit may wish to consult with a medical malpractice attorney.

Source: Buzzfeed News, "Last Breath", Chris Hamby, October 08, 2014

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