According to a recently published report, 15 percent of all medical malpractice claims relating to misdiagnoses involve radiologists. This means that radiologists are second only to general practitioners for the number of medical malpractice claims filed against them. In fact, between 2013 and 2017, 595 medical malpractice claims were filed against radiologists nationwide. Many of these claims alleged delayed and/or incorrect diagnoses on behalf of a radiologist.
In the report, a full 80 percent of missed diagnoses allegedly resulted from the misinterpretation of clinical tests. Breast cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and ovarian cancer top the list for the most common types of cancers associated with misinterpretation of diagnostic tests. Other commonly missed medical issues include non vertebral and spinal fractures.
Lack of Follow-Up After Abnormal Test Results
Often times, the problem lies in the fact that there is little to no follow-up from radiology or the patient’s primary doctor following abnormal test results. This lack of follow-up can lead to significant injury for a patient. Roughly three-quarters of all claims alleging misdiagnosis involve permanent injury or death.
As an example, consider the case of a patient who visits his doctor with flu-like symptoms. The doctor, believing the patient does have the flu, orders a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia. The radiologist fails to notice a small mass on the patient’s lung, declaring the x-ray “normal.” A year later, the patient learns that the small mass was the first stage of lung cancer. Because the radiologist failed to identify the mass, treatment was delayed and the life expectancy of the patient was significantly compromised.
Making Changes to Avoid Missed Diagnoses
To avoid these types of diagnostic errors, changes that will help radiologists avoid dangerous and deadly errors need to occur. Here are just a few recommendations outlined by the report:
- Reading the diagnostic test a second time
- Identifying a specific time frame for a second read
- Using clear, concise language
- Avoiding interpretive phrases
Radiologists issue dozens of reports daily, which means that the message from a radiologist may not be delivered to the proper party or in an appropriate amount of time. Such breakdowns in communication can easily lead to a medical malpractice claim, and must be addressed within the medical industry.
If you have been harmed by diagnostic errors or misdiagnosis, you should immediately contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can properly address these injuries while simultaneously defending your rights. Your attorney will need to begin investigating your incident closely to determine if you even have cause to file a medical malpractice claim.
Has a Radiology Error Caused You Harm?
At Zimmet & Zimmet, our medical malpractice lawyers know that radiology errors can result in significant harm to patients and their families. Proving medical malpractice takes extensive investigation and a skilled legal team. From the moment you are injured, we will begin building a case that is designed to collect the compensation you deserve. If you’ve been injured by a medical error, we can help. Contact us today at (386) 255-6400 for a free initial consultation and review of your case.