ACR will train future ‘B Readers’ to address national shortage

The American College of Radiology (ACR) was picked by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to train physicians to classify pneumoconiosis on chest x-rays, a specialist otherwise known as a “B Reader."

This group of physicians assists the NIOSH national program tasked with identifying the interstitial lung disease in coal miners. B Readers classify patient’s chest x-rays for the presence and severity of pneumoconiosis, as recommended in the highly-specific “Guidelines for the Use of the International Labour Office (ILO) International Classification of Radiographs of Pneumoconioses.”

B Readers must also help monitor workers exposed to silica and asbestos across a variety of industries. However, as noted in an ACR statement, the number of these specialists has dwindled despite their ever-increasing demand.

“The ACR Education Center has been providing best-in-class, hands-on radiology education for more than a decade,” said William T. Thorwarth, MD, CEO of the ACR, in the statement. “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 Education Center will provide “at least” two courses to quality 80 physicians as certified B Readers by August 2020. The first course will begin January 30 and 31, 2020.

“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 co-lead the B-reader training. “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."

Registration for courses is available here.