It has been suggested that the assessment of ventilatory capacity alone is inadequate for the determination of disabling occupational respiratory impairment in coal miners. The Department of Labor has accepted this view and now routinely requests blood gas analyses in those claimants not meeting the ventilatory criteria. We tested the validity of this contention by selecting two groups of coal miners claiming total disability. The first consisted of 150 claimants who were referred for spirometry, while the second consisted of 50 claimants who had been referred for blood gas studies. Of those in group 1, eight met the extant criteria for disability, while only two of those in group 2 satisfied the criteria, and, in both, cardiac disease was responsible. We conclude that blood gas analyses are unnecessary in the determination of pulmonary disability in coal miners.
(JAMA 243:2401-2404, 1980)