January 21, 2022 | Firm News
A radiologist is a medical professional trained to interpret the results of medical imaging devices such as MRIs and x-rays. Playing a cooperative role with other physicians, a radiologist provides valuable information necessary for the proper diagnosis and treatment of a patient. When a patient’s condition is misdiagnosed, liability could rest with the physician, the radiologist, or both. Any mistake in reading or interpreting an image could result in a devastating misdiagnosis. If you or a loved one suffered harm due to a misdiagnosis, you are entitled to hold the radiologist accountable. Below, our medical malpractice and personal injury attorneys in Ft. Lauderdale from South Florida Law, PLLC discusses these types of cases in more detail.
The definition of negligence in a personal injury case is the failure of a person to behave with a level of care that a reasonable person would exercise under similar circumstances. When the case is based on medical malpractice, then the standard of care is what a prudent and trained medical professional would do in the same situation. It is important to note that a poor outcome is not necessarily proof of medical malpractice or negligence.
To establish negligence in a personal injury case arising from a radiologist’s error, our experienced Hollywood, FL personal injury attorney will have to demonstrate four elements.
In many cases, interpreting the results of a medical imaging device is subjective. As stated above, just because a patient experienced an unfavorable outcome does not mean that the radiologist made an inexcusable mistake. However, there are three common ways a radiologist violates the accepted standard of medical care according to our Aventura personal injury lawyers.
Misreading an MRI or x-ray is one of the most common causes of a medical malpractice lawsuit against a radiologist. Some studies suggest that nearly 80% of negligence-based claims of misdiagnosis resulted from a misinterpretation by a radiologist.
In some cases, a radiologist is focused on a specific condition or symptom and overlooks another issue that is apparent in the image. For instance, a doctor could order a chest x-ray because the patient is showing signs of pneumonia. The radiologist who is tasked with interpreting the x-ray focuses on these symptoms and misses a small abnormality on the chest. When a report is prepared, the radiologist indicates that there are no signs of pneumonia. However, the slight irregularity was developing lung cancer. If noticed on the x-ray at the time of the original diagnosis, it might have been possible to treat the cancer. If the cancer is discovered later and not operable, the radiologist’s mistake could have cost the patient their life.
Proving that the conduct was negligent requires showing that a competent and prudent radiologist would have noticed the abnormality. Our medical malpractice and personal injury attorney in Hialeah will turn to the testimony of medical experts to establish that the mistake was unjustifiable.
Communication is a key component of providing quality medical care. Proper diagnoses required effective and clear communication between doctors, radiologists, and patients. However, radiologists are often removed from direct contact with patients and review dozens of images each day. Along with interpreting the image, a radiologist produces a report for the physician who ordered the image. When a breakdown occurs in this communication, misdiagnoses and devastating mistakes occur.
One way communication failures happen is when a radiologist prepares a preliminary report and sends a full report at a later date. Returning to the example above, a radiologist might send a preliminary report stating the image appears normal with no signs of pneumonia. However, in the full report issued later, the small abnormality is mentioned. Because there was no indication of the abnormality in the preliminary report, it goes unnoticed in the full report. Under these circumstances, it could be possible to hold both the doctor and radiologist liable for medical malpractice. Our Miami personal injury lawyer will have to carefully evaluate the role played by each medical professional when crafting a medical malpractice claim.
Radiologists are human and do make mistakes. A prudent radiologist should understand their personal scope of knowledge and understanding. There are times when a radiologist will see an abnormality on an image and not comprehend the full implications. Medical professionals are not held to the standard of what a novice or inexperienced radiologist would do. A prudent and competent professional is precisely what it sounds like. If a radiologist is unsure about what they see in an image, the reasonable and prudent course of action is to bring it to the treating physician’s attention or another, more experienced radiologist. Therefore, inexperience or lack of knowledge is not a viable excuse for committing medical malpractice.
Patients in Florida trust their physicians to diagnose and treat their medical conditions. Both patients and doctors rely on the ability of skilled radiologists to interpret the results of medical imaging devices. When a radiologist makes an unjustifiable mistake when reading the results or if a failure in communication occurs, the unsuspecting patient could experience devastating medical consequences. When these errors are preventable, an injured patient has the right to seek compensation. Our Florida medical misdiagnosis and personal injury lawyers in Hallandale Beach at South Florida Law, PLLC are committed to holding medical professionals accountable for their misconduct. Call (954) 932-7877 to schedule a free consultation.