ABC World news conducted an investigation into Dr. Paul Saurel Wheeler, M.D. of the prestigious Johns Hopkins Medical Center. "Coal companies have paid millions of dollars to Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions over the last decade for medical opinions that have been used to deny hundreds of ailing mine workers meager black lung benefits, a year long investigation by ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity found.The head of the Hopkins unit that interprets X-rays in black lung cases, Dr. Paul Wheeler, found not a single case of severe black lung in the more than 1,500 cases decided since 2000 in which he offered an opinion, a review by ABC News and the Center found. In recent court testimony, Wheeler said the last time he recalled finding a case of severe black lung, a finding that would automatically qualify a miner for benefits under a special federal program, was in "the 1970's or the early 80's." " Wheeler told ABC News in a lengthy interview in which he defended his track record. For his work, coal companies pay Hopkins $750 for each X-ray he reads for black lung, about ten times the amount miners typically pay their doctors.
"Other experts in black lung disease told ABC News that Wheeler's medical views seem far outside the mainstream, and several bluntly questioned Wheeler's approach. Dr. Michael Brooks, a radiologist at the University of Kentucky who sees thousands of black lung cases, said Wheeler's results were "either a case of someone really having no idea of what they're doing or being willfully misleading. One of those two possibilities.""
To Paul B. Rothman, M.D. CEO Johns Hopkins Medicine:
Conduct an immediate investagation into the medical ethics of your Medical Center and Dr. Paul Saurel Wheeler M.D. receiving money from coal companies and then denying coal workers black lung claims.