NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 6, 2004

Doctors may be profiting from asbestos lawsuits by providing false testimony, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In the study (published in Academic Radiology), a team of six independent radiologists, led by Joseph Gitlin of Johns Hopkins, examined 492 X-rays used as evidence in asbestos lawsuits. The radiologists had no knowledge that the X-rays were involved in court cases.

  • In the initial examinations done by "expert witness" physicians, 96 percent of the X-rays were diagnosed as having asbestos-related lung damage.
  • In Gitlin's study, only 4.5 percent of the X-rays were diagnosed with asbestos-related lung damage.
  • The initial examinations revealed that none of the X-rays during the trials were diagnosed as "completely normal," but 38 percent of the X-rays in Gitlin's study were considered "completely normal."

In other words, some physicians are compromising ethics and truth in order to profit from large payments for being "expert witnesses."

Several asbestos lawsuits are currently pending in federal and state courts, and about 60 U.S. companies named in litigation are seeking voluntary bankruptcy.

Source: Editorial, "Not X-Ray Vision," Opinion, Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2004; Joseph N. Gitlin, et al, "Comparison of 'B' Readers -- Interpretations of Chest Radiographs for Asbestos Related Changes," and Murray L. Janower, Leonard Berlin, "'B' Readers? Radiographic Interpretations in Asbestos Litigation: Is Something Rotten in the Courtroom?" Academic Radiology 11, no. 8, August 2004.

For WSJ text (subscription required):,,SB109166037327983345,00.html?mod=opinion


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