Report scorns RTS for lacking qualification

Ann Knef Oct. 20, 2005, 8:28am

A medical screening firm that was banned by a major asbestos trust fund and scorned by a report on attorney-funded disease testing is believed to be responsible for the diagnoses of multiple plaintiffs in recent Madison County litigation.

Respiratory Testing Services (RTS), a Mobile, Ala.-based mass medical screening company, was among several firms singled out in a September report issued by the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies.

The study, “Regulating Attorney-Funded Mass Medical Screenings: A Public Health Imperative?” asserts that attorney-funded mass medical screenings are producing a high rate of false-positive diagnoses.

Last month, the Johns Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust announced it will no longer accept documents prepared by RTS, as the firm is not an "acceptable" medical source. Johns Manville has paid out $3.3 billion for 655,096 asbestos claims since 1988.

“It is likely that hundreds of thousands of asbestos and silica lawsuits have been based on unreliable medical evidence,” the AEI-Brooking report states.

Mass medical screeners are not well-credentialed, it claims.

“In bona fide medical screening programs, the technicians and the administrative personnel, as well as physicians involved in the program are well-trained.

“In contrast, the owners and managers of the litigation screening companies typically do not have a medical education, and few have training aside from picked up on the job at other litigation screening companies.

Charles Foster, the owner of Respiratory Testing Services (RTS), left high school in the 10th grade and worked as a department store clerk, a pipefitter, and a tire store manager before entering the medical screening business, according to the report.

It states that Foster’s preparation for a medical screening business came from “being in the public, PR, no kind of schooling,” the reports quotes Foster.

“After starting his own service, RTS, he took a several day training course when he purchased pulmonary function testing equipment.

“Although he was awarded a certificate at that time, he said, ‘I couldn’t tell you two words that was said in there…I didn’t really go to the classes. I was out on the beach’.”

According to asbestos plaintiffs whose lawsuits were filed in Madison County in September, RTS conducted a mass screening at a Chicago union hall in late September through early October of 2003.

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