About Radiology Malpractice
In recent years, the professional role of a radiologist has evolved due to this specialist's increasing involvement in the clinical-therapeutic management of the patient. Because radiologists have been assigned these new duties and liabilities, they are exposed to a higher risk of medical malpractice claims.
According to the American College of Radiology, Radiologists are “… medical doctors that specialize in diagnosing and treating injuries and diseases using medical imaging (radiology) procedures (exams/tests) such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography (PET) and ultrasound.”
Radiologists now perform functions related to diagnostic radiology and interventional radiology. Mistakes and errors may occur in both areas of radiology and cause serious, even fatal, harm to patients. Like any other physician, if a radiologist deviates from the standard of care and is professionally negligent, patients may be entitled to file a medical malpractice lawsuit and seek damages. Many problems associated with medical malpractice typically are related to two issues: the physician-patient relationship or improper medical care leading to bodily harm.
Diagnostic radiology includes X-rays; CT Scans; MRI; MRA; Mammography; Nuclear medicine; Fluoroscopy; Ultrasound imaging; PET imaging; and PET-CT. In these situations, since radiology is used for diagnostic purposes, a missed or delayed diagnosis is most common. Errors of diagnosis (14.83 claims per 1000 person-years) are the most common generic cause of medical malpractice lawsuits against radiologists.
Interventional radiology may be used to treat cancers, arterial or venous blockages, uterine fibroids, and liver and kidney problems. Interventional radiology is also used for imaging during the insertion of intravenous lines, catheters, and other medical implements.
In addition to mistakes in diagnosis, other examples of negligence during radiology treatment include communication errors, medication errors, IV infiltration of contrast material, mislabeled images, misread radiology studies, and radiation overdoses.