Silicosis, Doctors and Lawyers

There is a fascinating but disturbing story in today’s New York Times about a federal court case involving claims arising from alleged injuries because of exposure to silica. Judge Jack has raised serious questions about whether the claims are legitimate and the role of the doctors and claimant’s lawyers in making the diagnosis.

From the article: “‘It is apparent that truth and justice had very little to do with these diagnoses – otherwise more effort would have been devoted to ensuring they were accurate,’ Judge Jack wrote. ‘These diagnoses were driven by neither health nor justice: they were manufactured for money. The record does not reveal who originally devised this scheme, but it is clear that the lawyers, doctors and screening companies were all willing participants.'”

The NYT article includes a link to Judge Jack’s 249 page opinion.

This story will not and should not die. If a doctor knowingly gave an improper diagnosis to a claimant in an effort to help that claimant get compensation the doctor needs to be punished. To the extent that a lawyer participated in any wrongdoing he or she needs to be punished.

I am not saying claims of silicosis are not real. Some truly are and the disease itself is horrible. But we cannot let people game the system. And to the extent that doctors or lawyers are involved in gaming the system they need to be punished.