The following is a statement provided by Johns Hopkins in response to ABC News' black lung investigation:
The Johns Hopkins radiology department has provided NIOSH B-reads on coal miners and industrial workers for 40 years. To our knowledge, no medical or regulatory authority has ever challenged or called into question any of our diagnoses, conclusions or reports resulting from the B reader program.
Johns Hopkins radiologists review approximately two to three thousand possible pneumoconiosis cases every year. In the more than 40 years since this program's inception, they have confirmed thousands of cases to be compatible with pneumoconiosis. Several thousand less conclusive cases have been listed as possible pneumoconiosis, with a recommendation of a biopsy for a definitive diagnosis. This is standard clinical practice in diagnosing this disease in order to provide the appropriate treatment.
When providing second opinion reviews of possible cases of pneumoconiosis, Johns Hopkins B-readers adhere to the clinical standards of diagnosis noted in the guidelines from the ILO's International Classification of Radiographs of Pneumoconiosis (revised edition 2011).
There are no financial incentives associated with this program for our B-readers or the radiology department. There are no bonuses or other salary supplements paid to doctors related to the volume of examinations read, expert testimony, or other aspects of the B-reader program at Johns Hopkins.
There are separate fees for reporting the B-read x-rays and offering expert testimony about them. Fees from B-read reports go to the radiology department. Since 1982, fees for providing expert testimony from B-readers go to a scholarship endowment fund for medical students. The scholarship fund currently awards between $14,000 and $28,000 per year in financial aid for Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine students.
The Johns Hopkins radiology department and the B-reader program have received no donations from any of the 25 law firms or coal companies ABC inquired about in an email on September 6, 2013.
Paul Wheeler, M.D. is an established radiologist in good standing in his field. He has consistently retrained, retested and recertified with NIOSH as a B-reader, most recently in April 2013.