Week in Review: A lump of Kentucky coal for the holidays | Top 10 radiology stories for the year

Dear AuntMinnie Member,

The holidays are usually a time for spreading good cheer, but this past week saw the publication of several articles that likely will leave many radiology professionals in a decidedly sour mood.

Earlier this week, a news report concluded that the recent resurgence in black lung disease among coal miners was the result of a change in mining techniques that has made black lung more common among miners -- with "thousands and thousands" of new cases developing. The report claims that the U.S. government was aware of the higher risk for decades but did nothing to change mining rules.

But a second story hits much closer to home: The article concerns Dr. James Brandon Crum, a radiologist in eastern Kentucky, in the heart of Appalachian coal country. Dr. Crum participated in the U.S. government's B-reader program, a program set up to screen coal miners for early signs of black lung.

Dr. Crum became alarmed by the growing number of black lung cases he was seeing in his clinic, and in 2015 he alerted the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH investigators confirmed his findings, publishing several reports indicating that black lung incidence rates have risen to the highest levels in 25 years.

One would expect Dr. Crum to be lauded for his efforts, but just the opposite happened. The Kentucky Legislature earlier this year passed legislation that blocked radiologists such as Dr. Crum from participating in the B-reader program, reserving the privilege for pulmonologists. While all radiologists in the state were affected, several observers believe the law targeted Dr. Crum exclusively, according the article, which was published in the Guardian earlier this month.

Legislation has already been proposed to rescind the provision and allow Kentucky radiologists back into the B-reader program. But one wonders whether the legislators who voted to stop Dr. Crum and other radiologists from participating in the program will get lumps of Kentucky coal in their Christmas stockings this year.

Top 10 radiology stories for the year

On a more cheerful note, we're pleased to bring you what's become an annual holiday tradition here on AuntMinnie.com: our list of top 10 stories for the year, based on traffic data from our readers.

The top story of the year was the news in June that GE plans to spin off its GE Healthcare division as a separate company (indeed, we published news on that front earlier this week). Next up was a story about the U.S. National Institutes of Health releasing a database of more than 10,000 scans that can be used to test and train artificial intelligence algorithms.

Articles that had to do with complications from MRI scanning were also popular in 2018, such as the tragic story of a man in India who was killed when he carried an oxygen cylinder into an MRI suite, or the mysterious tale of iPhone failures during magnet service.

It's been a pleasure bringing you these articles over the past year, and we hope you've enjoyed the coverage. From all of us at AuntMinnie.com, here's to you and yours for a safe and enjoyable holiday season!

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