What is Radiology Malpractice?

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF A RADIOLOGIST?

A radiologist is a medical specialist who has been trained to read and interpret the results of medical images, such as MRIs, CTs, and x-rays. A radiologist works in conjunction with other physicians who request imaging tests. For instance, if a primary care physician orders a chest x-ray, the radiologist will read and interpret the results of the x-ray, and then return those interpretations and results to the primary physician.

WHAT IS RADIOLOGY MALPRACTICE?

There are two types of radiology malpractice: misreading an image and failure to communicate with the consulting physician. 75% of lawsuits against radiologists come from one of these two situations.

Misreading an Image

The most common form of radiology malpractice is due to diagnostic errors – the failure to correctly read or interpret the medical image.

At times, when examining test results, a radiologist can “miss” a vital finding or may focus on one type of medical condition over another.

For instance, a primary physician may request a chest x-ray of a patient to rule out pneumonia. When the radiologist looks for pneumonia, the image is clear of that illness. However, during examination of the x-ray, the radiologist may overlook a mass. Later, the patient is determined to have lung cancer as a result of that mass. The radiologist, therefore, can be found negligent in evaluating the initial x-ray.

Frequently missed diagnoses include breast and lung cancer, vascular disease, and aneurysms.

Communication Failure

The second most common type of radiology malpractice occurs when a radiologist and a referring physician miscommunicate. This can occur when a radiologist does not provide test results to the physician or fails to mention concerns about the patient’s imaging. It can also occur when the physician fails to read the radiologist’s full report and overlooks details about the evaluation of the scan.

Radiologists and physicians are required by medical malpractice law to communicate effectively not only with each other, but also with their patients.

WHEN SHOULD I SEE AN ATTORNEY?

Radiology malpractice cases can be quite difficult, with complex medical and legal details.  If you believe that the health of you or a loved one was jeopardized as a result of radiology malpractice, contact an attorney as soon as possible.

In the instance of misreading an image, an attorney will make the case, with the help of medical expert witnesses, that any other competent radiologist would have noticed an abnormality in the medical image.

If miscommunication between physicians is the issue, at least one of the two doctors – the radiologist or the referring physician – will be liable for the damage. Courts can also decide to penalize both physicians in a given case.

If you believe that you have a radiology malpractice case resulting in injury or death, contact us at 740.374.5346 or use our convenient contact form.