In the modern world of medicine, doctors have a vast amount of tools available to assist them in diagnosing patients, including x-rays, MRI machines, CAT scans, ultrasounds, and many other types of scans, tests, and imaging devices. In fact, radiology has emerged as a growing subset of medicine, and some doctors attend medical school and complete residency programs focused only on performing and reading scans and imaging.
While tests and scans are a valuable tool for doctors, it is possible for their results to be misread or mistaken, which can have profoundly negative consequences for patients. Misdiagnosis can lead to unnecessary procedures being performed, wrong medications being administered, and patients can be harmed from these actions. When harm occurs resulting from medical treatment, a medical malpractice case can arise.
What Types of Injuries Stem from Radiologist Mistakes?
Many types of injuries stem from mistakes made by radiologists and doctors while interpreting scans, images, and test results, but some are more common than others, including:
Missed diagnosis: While late diagnosis generally does not give rise to a malpractice claim, if a doctor orders tests and affirmatively misreads those tests, a malpractice claim can arise. These cases generally come up when a late diagnosis leads to a serious disease progressing past the point of treatment, such as cancer. However, these cases can also arise when a missed diagnosis causes a patient to be withheld treatment from an otherwise curable ailment. The example below illustrates a similar fact pattern.
Unnecessary treatment or surgery: As an example, assume that you’ve injured a bone in your body, and you go to the emergency room to get things checked out. At the ER, the doctors take x-rays, and conclude that you need a complicated surgery to fix a fractured bone. They complete the surgery, and you’re forced to stay at home for two weeks to recover, and after that, you’re forced to use a wheelchair for six weeks.
You are unable to work during that entire time frame, and your injury did not give rise to a worker’s compensation claim. Later, you find out at a follow-up with a different doctor that the “fracture” was in fact a sprain, and a simple cast could have had you back at work weeks ago.
In these types of cases, patients have valid claims for malpractice if they can show that the incorrect diagnosis would not have been made by an otherwise reasonable and competent doctor.
When is a Radiologist Mistake Considered Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor violates an accepted standard of care, and a patient suffers injuries resulting from the doctor’s conduct. The “accepted standard of care” refers to the expected conduct of an otherwise reasonable and competent doctor, so in the specific context of radiology scans and tests, the question often hinges on whether a reasonable doctor would have interpreted the scan in a different manner.
If you believe that you or a family member have been affected by malpractice committed by a doctor reading medical scans, it’s important that you contact a Philadelphia radiology misread attorney as soon as possible.
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