The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has selected the American College of Radiology Education Center to provide training and examination to increase the number of B Readers available in the United States. B Readers are a special group of physicians recognized by NIOSH as qualified to classify chest radiographs to identify pneumoconiosis.
NIOSH is required to carry out a national program of health surveillance for coal miners, including periodic chest radiography to identify the early changes of this progressive and irreversible interstitial lung disease. As part of this surveillance, B Readers classify chest radiographs for the presence and severity of appearances of pneumoconiosis according to the Guidelines for the Use of the International Labour Office (ILO) International Classification of Radiographs of Pneumoconioses, a highly specialized system that is unfamiliar to most physicians.
In addition to coal miner health surveillance, B Readers have important roles in health surveillance for workers exposed to silica and asbestos in a range of industries, in various compensation and legal settings, and in epidemiological research.
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Demand for B Readers has increased, while at the same time, the population of B Readers has decreased from nearly 400 in the mid-2000s, to 165 today. The average age of the remaining B Readers has also progressively increased to an average of more than 60 years old.
“The ACR Education Center has been providing best-in-class, hands-on radiology education for more than a decade,” said William T. Thorwarth, MD, FACR, chief executive officer of the ACR. “We are honored to work with NIOSH to remedy attrition among B Readers, enable a new generation of B Readers and increase accessibility to these vital medical professionals.”
The ACR Education Center has committed to providing at least two courses, including training and examination, to qualify at least 80 physicians to become certified B Readers by August 2020. The first course will take place January 30 and 31, 2020, followed by a full-day exam on Feb. 1.
“The specialized ability of B Readers to identify early the presence and severity of chest radiographic findings holds the potential to improve health outcomes for many coal workers,” said Jeffrey P. Kanne, MD, a longtime ACR Education Center course director who will lead the B-reader training with his colleague, Cris A. Meyer, MD. “In addition, the opinions of B Readers have often been considered in compensation cases and other administrative and legal proceedings. It’s important that we expand the group of physicians who are qualified to provide this invaluable expertise.”
About the American College of Radiology
The American College of Radiology is a membership organization of 38,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists and medical physicists dedicated to serving patients and society by empowering radiology professionals to advance the practice, science and professions of radiological care.