Radiology Errors Account for Large Percentage of Medical Malpractice ClaimsSeptember 20, 2018
Radiologists use medical imaging techniques, like magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs), X-rays, and positron emission tomography (PET), to diagnose and treat a range of diseases. If a radiologist makes a medical error, either due to a missed finding, a failure to review other imaging, a failure to detect an abnormality, or any other type of error, it can impact the patient’s health and course of treatment. According to a new report, 15 percent of all diagnosis-related medical malpractice claims involve radiologists. Only general medicine healthcare providers have more malpractice claims.
From 2013 to 2017, there were close to 600 malpractice claims against radiologists. According to an analysis of closed claims at Boston-based medical professional liability insurer, Coverys, most of these claims involved an incorrect, or delayed diagnosis. They also found that 80 percent of the claims against radiologists involved misinterpretations of clinical tests.
Of the claims involving diagnostic failures, the most frequent were incorrect cancer diagnoses of breast, lung, pancreatic, and ovarian cancer. After examining the claims, researchers found that many of them resulted from lack of follow-up after an abnormal test result. When a radiologist fails to detect an abnormality, or fails to proceed with the appropriate tests, it can lead to high-severity patient injuries.
Impact of Radiology Errors
According to the report, over 80 percent of the claims involving a misdiagnosis resulted in permanent injuries or fatality. To prevent these types of errors and the health risks it causes to patients, the report included a series of risk management recommendations for radiologists across the country. For example, researchers recommended coming up with a list of criteria that would specify whether a second radiologist should review a film. The criteria should also include deadlines for completion, as well as confirmation from the radiologist who is performing the second read. In addition, vague or unclear language should be avoided.
Checklists are also recommended to avoid certain cognitive biases and to rely less on memory alone. An effective, well-constructed diagnostic checklist can ensure that all images are thoroughly inspected and that there is less likelihood that the reader will miss a subtle or unexpected finding. Checklists are simple, yet effective ways of avoiding human error and improve the quality of healthcare in hospitals and healthcare facilities across the country. By adopting checklists into their workflow, particularly in highly complex studies, radiologists can avoid errors and save lives.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Radiology Errors
If your health has been compromised because of a radiology error, it is in your best interest to contact the Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton at your earliest convenience. When a trusted medical professional fails to provide the care that you deserve, we will hold that person liable for any injuries you may have sustained. Our skilled and experienced team will seek the maximum financial compensation you deserve, protecting your legal rights every step of the way. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent medical malpractice victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.