Understanding Medical Malpractice By Radiologists

X-rays are one of the oldest diagnostic tools in medicine. The field has advanced from using x-rays to take pictures of the body to using high energy radiation to treat cancer. While the use of x-rays as a diagnostic tool is perhaps the oldest use of the technology, it is also the leading cause of malpractice suits against Chicago radiologists.

According to radiologists who study malpractice cases, the two leading causes of malpractice claims against radiologists are failure to diagnose an illness or injury revealed on an x-ray and failure to perceive an abnormal condition on an x-ray. Failure to diagnose can be either a failure to observe the condition or to properly interpret the x-ray. For example, a physician may examine an x-ray of the shoulder looking for, say, a torn rotator cuff and miss a lung tumor on the same image. Likewise, a physician reading an x-ray of the lumbar spine for disc disease may miss an image of a kidney tumor.

Radiologists often compound their observational errors by failing to communicate their findings, especially anomalous findings, to the referring physician. Patients rarely communicate directly with radiologists, relying instead on the referring physician to act as an interlocutor. Thus, the radiologist bears principal responsibility for relaying his or her findings to the referring physician accurately and completely.

Anyone who has suffered illness or injury or lost a loved one because of a possible failure of a radiologist to diagnose a serious medical condition may wish to consult an attorney who handles medical malpractice cases. Such a consultation can provide a helpful analysis of the facts and law that apply to the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.

Source: Diagnostic Imaging, “Malpractice in Radiology,” Liza Haar, April 16, 2016, accessed on March 20, 2017