What are the most common errors made by radiologists?
Radiologists perform a vital role by using medical imaging techniques to diagnose diseases or illnesses. When a radiologist makes a mistake, it can have devastating consequences on the health of the patient. Now, a review of claims filed with one medical professional liability insurer suggests that the rate of radiologist malpractice is far higher than most of us previously would have believed. Our New York City medical malpractice attorneys discuss the types of errors made by radiologists and the potential consequences of radiological errors below.
Types of Radiological Medical Malpractice
A review of closed claims at Coverys, a medical professional liability insurer, revealed 600 medical malpractice claims lodged against radiologists from the years 2013 to 2017. Over 80 percent of the claims involved misdiagnosis which resulted in serious injuries or death. The most frequent diagnostic errors involved cancer diagnoses, specifically lung, breast, ovarian, and pancreatic cancer. Diagnostic errors could stem from failing to correctly interpret the imaging or failure to perceive that the imaging is abnormal.
While failure to diagnose comprised the most common medical error, radiologists also committed medical malpractice by failing to communicate. Radiologists sued for malpractice often failed to communicate their abnormal findings to the patients and treating physicians. Findings left undisclosed at times turned out to be ominous. For example, a tumor seen on an MRI of a conjoining region that is not called to the attention of the referring doctor later turns out to be cancer. Had the tumor been addressed and treated at the time of the initial MRI, the patient would have had improved survival rates. The radiologist, in this circumstance, could potentially be liable under medical malpractice law.
To decrease instances of medical malpractice, radiologists must remain abreast of the most recent medical literature in the field. If questions exist as to the imaging, radiologists should seek additional testing or consult with an expert in the relevant field. Radiologists must take steps to ensure a referring physician is made well aware of any abnormal findings, and should follow up weeks after the test to ensure action was taken. Any patient who has suffered additional injuries due to the flawed findings or communication of a radiologist should consult with a medical malpractice attorney right away.