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The medical costs associated with severe complications arising among patients with pleural plaques

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on July 06th, 2020

Pleural plaques suggest that a person has been exposed to asbestos and may be at risk of other asbestos-related lung diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer. The healthcare costs associated with exposure to asbestos put a heavy burden on patients' budgets.

Asbestos fibers are easily inhaled and carried into the lower regions of the lung where they can cause changes in the lining of the chest cavity. Many industrial workers and veterans of the U.S. Military were unknowingly exposed to asbestos while performing their everyday duties on the job.

Pleural plaques are patches of fibrous thickening on the pleural membrane which can progress slowly and can calcify. Pleural plaques do not show obvious symptoms, hence the crucial importance of regular screenings if you have a history of asbestos exposure.

Tell your doctor you were exposed to asbestos and consider screening for asbestos-related conditions

For people diagnosed with pleural plaques, their occupational history must reveal consistent exposure to asbestos for more than five years or a shorter period of extremely intense exposure. Plaques are usually discovered incidentally on chest imaging scans.

  • A chest X-ray typically costs about $200-$400 or more, with an average of $370
  • The B-reader interpretation of a chest radiograph for asbestos-related changes costs on average between $200 and $400
  • CT scan without contrast: $220 - $500
  • CT scan with contrast : $300 - $1000

It is very important to keep vigilant and return for check-ups and X-rays every 2 - 3 years. If you ever notice any change or deterioration to your respiratory health, such as developing a persistent cough that lasts for one month or more, chest pains, or shortness of breath on minimal exertion, you should speak to your doctor as soon as possible.

Prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers can cause a range of asbestos-related conditions with high medical costs

You are told that the condition you have is benign and asymptomatic, but you know that the scarring of the lungs due to asbestos fibers means you are at risk of developing diseases that could at best change how you live your day-to-day life, and at worst lead to pain, suffering, and even death.

The presence of pleural plaques does not result in respiratory symptoms or clinically significant impacts on lung function, however, the condition should be considered a wake-up call. They could be a sign that asbestos may have been in your workplace, causing exposure, and increasing your risk of developing chronic lung diseases.

Once lodged in the lung tissue, these fibers may cause damage over time. Pleural plaques may be an indicator of a higher risk for conditions with high medical costs such as:

  • Pleural mesothelioma - on average, the cost of pleural mesothelioma treatment including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery may be $11,000-$12,000 a month
  • Lung cancer - the total costs of cancer treatment can average up to $150,000
  • Asbestosis - the average annual costs for hospitalization and inpatient care can total more than $14,000 per patient

Contact us for compensation and benefits advice

Most experts agree that the risk of developing the disease is dose-dependent, meaning that the risk of developing pleural plaques increases with the levels of previous asbestos exposure, although low levels can still cause pleural plaques to develop. If you have been told that you have pleural plaques by your doctor, you will need to travel to our medical facility in Birmingham, AL at your earliest convenience, as we offer a free medical evaluation that can detect or correctly diagnose your disease. Having an accurate diagnosis is important not only for recovering the compensation you deserve but also for receiving appropriate and effective treatment.

Because a diagnosis of pleural plaques confirms past exposure to asbestos, there is an increased risk of developing another asbestos-related disease later in life. The healthcare costs attributed to asbestos exposure brings a heavy financial burden to patients and their families.

Quantified key costs of asbestos-related diseases include:

  • Out-of-pocket expenses for primary and specialist care
  • Medical procedures outside the public health system
  • Anti-inflammatory medication and immunosuppressants
  • Home medical equipment, such as oxygen concentrators and portable cylinders
  • Travel and accommodation for health check-up, treatment, or recovery
  • Specialized in-home healthcare

If you are experiencing financial hardship, take legal action early to deal with the situation. The longer you wait, the more worrying the debts will become. Therefore, do not hesitate to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our accomplished and trusted attorneys. We have decades of experience in successfully handling asbestos exposure cases.