Missed diagnosis most common med mal claim against radiologists

Physicians have a certain duty of care they must give to patients under their care. If they breach this duty, they can be civilly responsible. And this goes for family practitioners, surgeon and even radiologists, or those who specialize in diagnosing disease and injuries using medical imaging technology like x-rays and MRIs

There are different types of medical mistakes that can occur depending on the field. Procedural errors, medical mix-ups, and surgical errors to name a few. Radiologist errors tend to happen, for example, as a result of equipment misuse, or radiation overexposure.

However, according to a recent study conducted by the New Jersey Medical School, the most common type of medical malpractice lawsuit against radiologists was for missed diagnosis.

Results of the study

The study, published in Radiology-an online medical journal that provides authoritative information in the field of radiology-looked at medical malpractice histories of over 8000 radiologists during a 55 year time span from 1955-2010.

The results revealed that 2624 of the total radiologists had med mal claims against them. And, the most common claim was for diagnostic error. Specifically, for every 1,000 individuals there were:

  • 3.57 claims for breast cancer missed diagnosis
  • 2.49 claims for nonspinal fracture missed diagnosis
  • 1.32 claims for spinal fracture missed diagnosis
  • 1.26 claims for lung cancer missed diagnosis
  • 1.08 claims for vascular disease missed diagnosis

Other interesting information

The data also revealed that procedural complications and radiologist-referrer communication were other common malpractice claims against radiologists.

Further, the study showed some interesting additional information about the correlation between geographic location of radiologists and claims against them. Doctors practicing in the northern parts of the country, such as New York, Indiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, were seemingly sued more often than radiologists in the southern states like Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi.

Additionally, the data also revealed that out of the total number of radiologists sued, about 600 had been sued twice and 486 had been sued three or more times during the period studied.

Consulting with a med mal attorney

It's important for patients who put their lives in the hands of any doctor to know that physicians-even radiologists-who breach their duty of care can be responsible under the law for medical malpractice. If the harm patients' suffer is a direct cause of the doctor's negligence, there may be legal recourse available.

However, medical malpractice claims are complex. Seeking the help of a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney who knows the intricate nature of this law is recommended.