Report says radiology-related malpractice often ends in death

The majority of radiology-related malpractice claims are due to misinterpretations of clinical tests, according to a report from Coverys. The health care liability insurance provider analyzed more than 10,000 closed claims that were filed between 2013 and 2017, all of them related to radiology-related liability and most of them involving a missed, delayed or wrong diagnosis. New York residents will want to know the rest of the results.

It turns out that 80 percent of missed-diagnosis claims involved a permanent injury or death. Around 15 percent of diagnosis-related claims involved allegations against radiologists, who were second after general medicine providers. Among claims of diagnostic failure, the most frequently missed condition was cancer, especially breast, lung, pancreatic and ovarian cancer.

Though a report from the Institute of Medicine emphasizes the role that pathology and radiology professionals play in accurate diagnoses, these providers are not always brought in for the diagnostic process. Coverys’ researchers therefore recommend several steps to improve patient safety.

Treatment protocols should be standardized, reporting templates developed and checklists implemented. The use of decision support films is also encouraged. Imaging reports should have incidental findings and recommendations separately laid out. Furthermore, medical centers should also consider formal quality improvement methods. By using clear language at all times, doctors can prevent misunderstandings.

Misdiagnoses and delayed diagnoses can form the basis for a personal injury case. Before a victim moves forward, however, they may want to consult with a malpractice attorney. A lawyer could request an inquiry with the local medical board and even have third parties conduct their own investigations. Once it is proven that the doctors did not live up to an objective standard of care, the attorney can begin negotiations for an informal settlement.