Misread Radiology Reports: how it happens?
Today, a variety of technologies exist including x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, MRAs, ultrasounds, and mammograms. An image should be examined by a trained and experienced radiologist to ensure that the results are properly read. Failure to read an image correctly can lead to misdiagnosis. If your doctor or radiologist made an error or misread an image that should have lead to a cancer diagnosis, then treatment may have been unnecessarily delayed, causing the disease to spread and worsen. In some situations, these errors may lead to more aggressive treatment or no viable treatment options at all.
Medical literature has demonstrated variation in radiologists’ performance. According to “Image: The Source for Radiology Professionals,” patients benefit when radiologists have increased training and experience, and when they specialize in a more specific sub-field. A 2002 study by Edward A. Sickles, MD, compared the performance of sub-specialists and general radiologists in screening, interpreting, and diagnosing mammograms. This study illustrated that cancer detection rates were 75% higher among sub-specialists. It also showed that the sub-specialists had higher rates of early stage cancer detection. In this particular study, the sub-specialists had increased training, experience, and continuing education in mammography, and they also had higher caseloads than general radiologists.
Detection and treatment of cancer in its earliest stages is not only associated with higher survival rates, but also with lower treatment costs. The cost of treating stage III or stage IV breast cancer is approximately 2 to 3 times more than treatment for stage 0 and stage I.
“Image: The Source for Radiology Professionals” reports that evolving imaging technology has dramatically enhanced diagnostic capabilities, resulting in the field of radiology growing increasingly more broad and complex; “it is virtually impossible for an individual physician to be considered an expert in every facet of the field. Leaders in the field have recognized the need for radiology sub-specializations, but currently, most images are read by general radiologists who are called upon to make precise diagnoses often outside their area of expertise.”
If you or a family member has undergone harmful treatment or suffered due to a misread radiology image, you may be eligible for compensation. Schedule a free evaluation with one of our medical malpractice lawyers today. Some of the various ways that radiology errors can cause serious or fatal consequences include:
- The failure to diagnose or delay in diagnosis of treatable cancers (breast, brain, bladder), along with misdiagnosis of these conditions;
- The failure to test for, or to diagnose, a brain bleed in the emergency room (common in car accidents and can result in stroke or death);
- The failure to identify or look for a small bowel obstruction on an abdominal CT scan, which allows the obstruction to worsen and cause serious injury or death.
Books & Resources
For more information on misread radiology reports, the following resources are available:
- Patterns Of Misdiagnosis In Plain Film Radiography
- Reducing Medical Misdiagnoses: Radiologists Step Up To The Challenge
- Radiology Malpractice Case: Failure To Detect Bone Fracture