Any kind of medical professional can make mistake that leads to a malpractice case. Doctors, surgeons, nurses, administrators, specialists, and anyone else with expertise working with patients may cause harm, illness, or death by even seemingly insignificant errors. Some medical workers may be more susceptible to these mistakes than others. While the professionals in the field argue against the finding, researchers say that radiologists are six on the list of top offenders.
Radiologists Sixth Most Likely Type of Doctor to be a Defendant
The study was issued as a report from the Cooperative of American Physicians, or CAP. CAP is an insurance company that provides liability coverage for doctors working in California. The company found that radiologists ranked sixth among types of doctors that find themselves defendants in medical malpractice cases. And yet radiologists make up less than four percent of all doctors.
Radiologists are often involved in making diagnoses for patients, and a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis is an all too common type of medical error that leads to a malpractice case. Radiologists read images from MRIs, CT scans, X-rays, and other types of scans to look for abnormalities. According to the CAP report, an error of diagnosis was the most common complaint against radiologists.
The report found that 83 percent of the cases they looked at were related to diagnostic error. Among all types of doctors in all specialties, diagnosis errors make up just 54 percent of malpractice cases. The remaining 17 percent of radiology cases were related to other factors or errors, including technical issues, procedural mistakes, faulty equipment, and communication mistakes.
Suggestions to Reduce Malpractice Rates for Radiologists
The goal of the CAP study was to find areas of concern and recommend where doctors can make changes to reduce the risk of errors and patient harm. According to the current study, radiologists need to improve diagnosis accuracy above all. They also need to communicate better with other medical professionals and patients, avoid misinterpretations of images and scans, and gather more and better information from patients before analyzing images.
Radiologists Fire Back
The CAP report has come under harsh criticism from the radiologists targeted by it. Critics say that the data are not robust enough, that the results and recommendations are based on just 68 cases of malpractice. These are compared to over 45,000 radiologists working throughout the U.S. Those criticizing the study say that the sample number is just too small to provide relevant conclusions.
Some radiologists, however, see some validity in the report results and recommendations. Some agree that there is not enough communication, that radiologists don’t often have enough background information on patients before attempting to make a diagnosis based on an image.
Notable Radiology Cases
There have been a few recent cases of malpractice in which radiologists were involved and that highlight the issues. In one case the patient was awarded $500,000 after a radiologist failed to diagnose a dislocated shoulder because the only information given was that the X-ray was ordered because of a cough. In another case the patient won $30 million for the failure to diagnose locked-in syndrome. There were technical issues with the MRI. A patient who won $1.5 million had appendicitis that was misdiagnosed after a CT scan and suffered a ruptured appendix and resulting complications.
Any doctor or medical professional can make a mistake that costs you the patient. You could be hurt or even killed as a result of a medical error. It helps to know where mistakes are common, such as in radiology. If you or a loved one was harmed because of a radiology error, make sure you contact a good medical malpractice lawyer to help you take the next step.