20 CFR § 718.104 - Report of physical examinations.

§ 718.104 Report of physical examinations.

(a) A report of any physical examination conducted in connection with a claim shall be prepared on a medical report form supplied by the Office or in a manner containing substantially the same information. Any such report shall include the following information and test results:

(1) The miner's medical and employment history;

(2) All manifestations of chronic respiratory disease;

(3) Any pertinent findings not specifically listed on the form;

(4) If heart disease secondary to lung disease is found, all symptoms and significant findings;

(5) The results of a chest X-ray conducted and interpreted as required by § 718.102; and

(6) The results of a pulmonary function test conducted and reported as required by § 718.103. If the miner is physically unable to perform a pulmonary function test or if the test is medically contraindicated, in the absence of evidence establishing total disability pursuant to § 718.304, the report must be based on other medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques, such as a blood gas study.

(b) In addition to the requirements of paragraph (a), a report of physical examination may be based on any other procedures such as electrocardiogram, blood-gas studies conducted and reported as required by § 718.105, and other blood analyses which, in the physician's opinion, aid in his or her evaluation of the miner.

(c) In the case of a deceased miner, where no report is in substantial compliance with paragraphs (a) and (b), a report prepared by a physician who is unavailable may nevertheless form the basis for a finding if, in the opinion of the adjudication officer, it is accompanied by sufficient indicia of reliability in light of all relevant evidence.

(d) Treating physician. In weighing the medical evidence of record relevant to whether the miner suffers, or suffered, from pneumoconiosis, whether the pneumoconiosis arose out of coal mine employment, and whether the miner is, or was, totally disabled by pneumoconiosis or died due to pneumoconiosis, the adjudication officer must give consideration to the relationship between the miner and any treating physician whose report is admitted into the record. Specifically, the adjudication officer shall take into consideration the following factors in weighing the opinion of the miner's treating physician:

(1) Nature of relationship. The opinion of a physician who has treated the miner for respiratory or pulmonary conditions is entitled to more weight than a physician who has treated the miner for non-respiratory conditions;

(2) Duration of relationship. The length of the treatment relationship demonstrates whether the physician has observed the miner long enough to obtain a superior understanding of his or her condition;

(3) Frequency of treatment. The frequency of physician-patient visits demonstrates whether the physician has observed the miner often enough to obtain a superior understanding of his or her condition; and

(4) Extent of treatment. The types of testing and examinations conducted during the treatment relationship demonstrate whether the physician has obtained superior and relevant information concerning the miner's condition.

(5) In the absence of contrary probative evidence, the adjudication officer shall accept the statement of a physician with regard to the factors listed in paragraphs (d)(1) through (4) of this section. In appropriate cases, the relationship between the miner and his treating physician may constitute substantial evidence in support of the adjudication officer's decision to give that physician's opinion controlling weight, provided that the weight given to the opinion of a miner's treating physician shall also be based on the credibility of the physician's opinion in light of its reasoning and documentation, other relevant evidence and the record as a whole.