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Medical News & Perspectives
January 1/8, 2019

Black Lung Resurgence Raises New Challenges for Coal Country Physicians

JAMA. 2019;321(1):17-19. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.15966

After a long career of treating coal miners for black lung disease, Edward Petsonk, MD, can’t forget a particular call from a patient’s wife. “She said, ‘Thanks a lot, Dr Petsonk. Now my husband has no job and we have nothing,’” he recalled.

Currently a professor of medicine at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, Petsonk had encouraged the woman’s husband, a miner, to get a chest x-ray to check for mining-related lung disease. The chance that he might file a worker’s compensation claim if occupational lung disease was diagnosed was enough for the miner to lose his job.