In between the time a patient visits a doctor because of a problem and the moment treatment begins, medical professionals must make a diagnosis that guides treatment. For many illnesses, including cancer, that diagnosis won’t come until radiological testing is completed.Understanding Radiology and Radiologist Error Malpractice
Radiology, an important diagnostic discipline, uses advanced technology that includes x-rays, PET scans, MRI, mammograms, CT scans, and other imaging technologies. This discipline permits physicians and other healthcare providers to look inside a patient’s body without surgery.
The medical professionals who are specially trained to administer and interpret these tests are called radiologists. They’re a critical part of the health care team. At Miami-based Hannon Legal Group, we appreciate what they do and we value the many competent radiologists who, day in and day out, help our family, friends, and neighbors get well again. But when they don’t do their job, patients can suffer.How Radiologist Medical Malpractice In Florida Happens
Radiologists aren’t perfect. According to a study reported by the American Journal of Roentgenology and discovered by Hannon Legal Group, one in every 25 interpretations made by radiologists contains at least one error and sometimes more. Misinterpretations aren’t the only kinds of radiology errors made by radiologists. The four basic kinds of radiology errors are:
- Observation Errors. This means that the radiologist has administered the diagnostic test properly, only to miss what showed up on the results. In other words, the radiologist fails to conform to the recognized standard of care because he or she fails to observe the results correctly, possibly by missing something a careful radiologist would be expected to see.
- Interpretation Errors. The whole point of having diagnostic imaging performed is to help reach a conclusion about a diagnosis. With interpretation errors, the radiologists see what they’re supposed to see; they just don’t make the right conclusion about what they have observed.
- Failure to suggest the next appropriate procedure. Your physicians, your nurses, your radiologists—they each have a role to play and they’re all supposed to be on your health care team. Once your radiology test has been completed, it is the radiologist’s responsibility to make a recommendation about the next appropriate course of action, whether that entails further testing, further evaluation, or treatment.
- Failure to communicate in a timely and clinically appropriate manner. Neither the treating physician nor the patient benefit if the radiologist correctly observes the results, accurately interprets the findings, and knows what ought to be done next unless that radiologists communicates his expertise across appropriate health care channels without delay.
There are several reasons that radiology errors occur. According to a 2012 National Institutes of Health report unearthed by Hannon Legal Group, radiologist errors typically happen because of poor technique by the radiologist. In other words, they don’t perform the diagnostic test—an X-ray, for example—in the proper way.
Some radiologists are simply too inexperienced or lack the knowledge to properly understand what they are supposed to be doing. This may contribute to a third common reason for incidences of radiology errors and that is failures of perception. Some radiologists are unable to see what other radiologists see and what any radiologists discharging his duties competently should see.
One cause of radiology errors not mentioned in the NIH report but which was cited in an issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology was fatigue. Simply put, when any healthcare provider, and especially radiologist, is tired, errors occur. Those errors can lead to tragic consequences.The Severity Of Radiology Medical Malpractice In South Florida
If any one of these various kinds of radiology errors happen, the patient can be harmed or even die as a result. In fact, nearly one in eight of the radiology errors that occurred in 2011 resulted in some sort of harm to the patient. By comparison, this number six seven times greater than that of medication errors!
It doesn’t take much to imagine the kind of damage that can be done. Consider the case of a radiologist missing a diagnosis of cancer in its early stages, only to be discovered several months later when it’s too late. Imagine a radiologist failing to report an infection which then spreads. Imagine a radiologists diagnosing cancer when it wasn’t, in fact, cancer. Consider the suffering and anxiety and expenses that can be incurred to fight such a disease.
Here are just of a few of the kinds of cases that arise from radiology error malpractice:
- Appendicitis misdiagnosis
- Bone fracture misdiagnosis
- Cancer misdiagnosis
- Ectopic pregnancy misdiagnosis
- Heart attack misdiagnosis
- Meningitis misdiagnosis
- Slipped epiphysis (SCFE) misdiagnosis.
- Spinal cord injury
- Spread of Breast Cancer
- Spread of Infection
- Testicular torsion misdiagnosis
- Unnecessary Surgery
- Wrongful Death
As you can see from this list, a radiologist’s error can lead to many different kinds of problems. These errors are not limited to one kind of condition or illness, so you, as a patient, must always be on guard and aware of the possibility of an error within your team of healthcare providers.Compensation for Radiology Error Malpractice
In our experience as a medical malpractice law firm in Florida, radiology errors can cause monumental suffering, serious injury, and even wrongful death. Radiologists and other healthcare professionals who fail to operate at an acceptable standard of care should be held accountable when their negligence causes suffering to you or a loved one.
What can you expect to receive in compensation for your radiologist’s error? The answer varies, but damages that are awarded typically fall into the following categories:
- Loss of consortium - This means a loss of the typical things you would expect to have in a marital relationship, including affection, comfort, companionship, and sexual relations. Such damages are generally awarded only in severe cases involving permanent or life-changing injuries.
- Loss of earning capacity - If the radiologist error temporarily or permanently altered your ability to perform your job, you can receive compensation for your loss of earning capacity.
- Lost wages - When you must miss work to recover from a radiology malpractice injury, you can collect compensation for lost wages.
- Medical expenses - Any medical expenses, current and future, that a radiology malpractice victim incurs can be awarded, including the cost of hospital stays, OT, PT, doctor visits, prescriptions, assistive devices or so forth.
- Pain and suffering - This includes compensation for any emotional distress you experience as a result of the malpractice, such as fear, frustration, depression, anxiety and other kinds of mental suffering.
- Other kinds of damages - This list is not comprehensive. Hannon Legal Group can help you understand the exact nature of how you may expect to be compensated based on the particulars of your case.
Hannon Legal Group has years of experience championing the rights of people just like you here in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and across the state of Florida. Contact us today for a free consultation about your radiology error case. Call (305) 358-3109 to speak with a malpractice attorney or complete and submit a contact form.