Diagnostic Errors in Radiology

As some Connecticut readers may know, radiology and other fields in the medical sciences are prone to diagnostic errors. In some cases, a radiologist may misinterpret the results of a test and might overlook certain abnormalities, which might lead to a missed, delayed or completely wrong diagnosis. While diagnostic errors have always been relatively common, they have only recently come under scrutiny.

A number of factors may cause such errors. In radiology, diagnostic errors are typically categorized as mistakes in communication, detection or interpretation. However, one study suggests that many medical errors might occur prior to a radiologist’s involvement with a case or after the radiologist has completed their work.

The same study claimed that approximately $38 billion is lost every year due to the economic costs of medical errors. Suboptimal radiology practices were cited as contributing factors to those losses, and about 4 percent of interpretations conducted by radiologists contain errors. More specifically, about 38-million mammography tests, the standard study for detecting breast carcinoma, were conducted in the United States in 2013, and an estimated 4 percent to 30 percent might have resulted in a misdiagnosis.

If certain conditions are not diagnosed in a timely manner, it might result in additional treatments and undue cost for a patient. The study further suggests that a majority of medical malpractice lawsuits are linked to instances of diagnostic failures, and the financial losses and the pain and suffering associated with the prolonged medical attention might be recoverable in court. A patient who believes that their physician failed to diagnose their condition by failing to adhere to accepted standards of care might consider discussing their situation with an attorney who is familiar with medical malpractice cases.