Black lung is a serious respiratory disease.
Black lung is a serious respiratory disease. Luiginifosi

Black lung case misdiagnosed

A PANEL investigating the re-emergence of black lung in Queensland has found a miner's "significant decline in lung function" was missed because a doctor could not access past health information.

The coal miner is one of six people in Queensland who have confirmed cases of coal workers' pneumoconiosis.

The State Government-commissioned review found the coal miner's health background should have been available to the doctor under the Queensland Coal Mine Workers' Health Scheme.

One of the 31 recommendations the group made in a draft overview of their interim findings was that data needed to be electronically entered and medicos should be able to access all miners' records.

There is a backlog of about 100,000 health assessment forms waited to be entered into the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines' database.

Some of the forms have been scanned and logged into the database, but the complete data has not been entered onto the database.

The group, led by Monash University Professor Malcolm Sim, presented an eight page draft overview of their interim findings to a reference group of union, industry, medical and government representatives in Brisbane on Friday.

Following another of the review's recommendations, Mines Minister Anthony Lynham announced on Friday that a core group of coal mining doctors would be developed.

Dr Lynham said the doctors that mining companies select to undertake regular official health assessments of miners, known as nominated medical advisers, would be given standard introductory training and require minimum training and experience.

The report stated there were 237 NMAs, meaning it is difficult to maintain a register of them and provide training.

Dr Lynham said he was also considering a recommendation that the mines department take charge of the appointment of NMAs to assess the respiratory health of those miners at risk of dust exposure.

The team is due to provide the final report mid-year. - ARM NEWSDESK