Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Radiology and medical malpractice

Radiologists are not immune to being sued for medical malpractice. In fact, the failure to read a scan properly, the failure to diagnose an ailment, or the failure to follow-up on a potential medical problem can lead to devastating results for patients.

A Pennsylvania radiologist was sued for failing to communicate to a patient about an X-ray that noted a small area of increased density in a patient's chest. A follow-up X-ray was conducted, but the patient did not learn about the results until the next year - when he was found to be suffering from irreversible lung cancer.

Approximately seven percent of radiologists face lawsuits every year for an error in diagnosis or failure to diagnose. Ultimately, a failure to communicate findings to a patient in a timely manner can result in the same thing as a misdiagnosis.

Radiologists need to communicate their findings with others, and they need to put together a means of communication where such findings are not lost. This can be as simple as documenting that the appropriate parties have been informed as to what is going on.

This patient sued the radiologist, and the lawsuit was settled for $3.75 million. If the radiologist would have communicated correctly his findings, there would have been no lawsuit and the patient may have been spared an untreatable disease.

Communication errors will continue to be one of the most common reasons for why medical malpractice lawsuits are filed. All of the expertise that goes into making a diagnosis will mean very little if the patient does not receive the treatment he or she needs.

Source: Diagnostic Imaging, "Radiology Pros Not Immune to Malpractice Suits," by Sara Michael, August 14, 2012

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
20 Stanwix Street, Seventh Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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