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What are some of the more common radiology errors?

When you envision receiving medical care for a particular ailment, chances are you picture a single medical team comprised of a physician, nurse and medical assistant. In the vast majority of cases, this is an altogether accurate representation. However, when a more complex medical issue is presented, multiple medical teams may be involved in your diagnosis and treatment.

For example, for patients battling cancer, treatment will likely be divided amongst a medical team headed by a primary physician and another team headed by a radiologist. Of course, with this division of treatment comes an increased opportunity for potential medical mistakes.

In fact, radiologists -- physicians responsible for diagnosing and treating conditions identified through various forms of imaging -- frequently find themselves facing serious allegations of medical malpractice.

Consider the following study by researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and published in the most recent edition of the journal Radiology, which examined medical malpractice data on approximately 8,401 radiologists in 47 states.

The results are appalling. Researchers determined that 31 percent of the radiologists in the study had been the subject of a medical malpractice lawsuit during the course of their career. Even more interesting, they also identified the most common reasons behind these medical malpractice lawsuits against radiologists.

  1. Diagnostic errors, in particular the failure to diagnose breast cancer, lung cancer, vascular disease, spinal fractures and non-spinal fractures
  2. Procedural complications
  3. Inadequate communication with the patient and/or provider
  4. Failure to recommend further treatment

It's easy to imagine how devastating a diagnostic error by a radiologist can be, particularly in regards to cancer. This is largely because time is of the essence when it comes to cancer, meaning any undue delay in treatment can result in the malignancy spreading past the point of no return.

If you believe that a radiology error -- x-rays, CT scans, MRIs and ultrasound -- has caused you or a loved one irreparable harm, please consider speaking to a legal professional who can help explore your options for seeking justice and holding negligent physicians to account for the harm they cause.

Source: Oncology Nurse Advisor, "Breast cancer diagnostic errors major cause of malpractice suits," Feb. 4, 2013

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