Imagine being told you have a condition which confirms the presence of poison in your lungs. This poison has already killed some of your friends and work colleagues, and left others with significant respiratory disabilities.
You are told that the condition you have is benign and asymptomatic, but you know that the presence of this poison means you are at risk of developing diseases which could at best change how you live your day-to-day life, and at worst lead to pain, suffering and death.
This scenario represents the stark reality facing hundreds of thousands of asbestos victims in the UK. These men and women have been diagnosed with pleural plaques; scarring or calcification on the pleura caused by exposure to asbestos. The condition typically does not cause any measurable disability or pain, nor does it attract benefits or compensation in England or Wales (although it does in Scotland and Northern Ireland). However, it can cause considerable anxiety and stress to those unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with the condition.
At the National Asbestos Helpline, we believe it is important to offer help and support to the victims of pleural plaques. We encourage medical professionals to make their pleural plaques patients aware of our helpline, which is free to phone. We can take the time – time which is not always available to medical professionals – to discuss with your patient any fears they may have, as well as helping them to understand the nature of their condition.
It is important to note that any patient diagnosed with pleural plaques will also be deemed to be on notice of their past exposure to asbestos. The implication of this in a legal sense is that they will be expected to act promptly should their health show signs of deteriorating. They will not necessarily be able to rely on the fact that they were waiting for formal diagnosis of a more serious asbestos-condition as a reason for delay before seeking any benefits or compensation to which they may be entitled. By keeping in touch with your patient, we can assist them in assessing whether or not they should be pursuing such avenues and thus help them avoid potential limitation traps.
If you have a pleural plaque patient who would benefit from speaking with our experts, please have them call us on 0800 043 6635 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.