August 24, 2009

Radiologic Miss and Malpractice

Error in Interpretation of Radiologic Studies

  1. True miss: an obvious abnormal finding is not seen
  2. True error in judgment: an abnormal (or normal) finding is not interpreted correctly
How Frequent Radiologists Make Error?
  • Radiologists are far less than perfect in interpreting radiologic studies
  • As many as 30% of abnormal findings are missed
  • Radiologists disgree (either with themselves or with their peers) as often as 50% of the time
  • However, the results shown above do not necessarily reflect the degree to which patient care is jeopardized. Some radiologic errors may translate into mismanagement of a patient or injury, many others are insignificant.
Does Radiologic Miss Constitute Malpractice?
  • "Malpractice suits are based on assumption that the doctor violated his/her duty to a patient, resulting in injury and the patient should be compensated by the offending physician"
  • In a malpractice case, it must be shown to the court that 1) the diagnosis was wrong, and 2) error was a result of 'negligence'
  • Radiologic miss may or may not involve negligence. Unfortunately, there is no guidelines yet to easily distinguish this true negligence from simple error. The way it works in courts is that negligence "no reasonable radiologist in similar circumstances would have made the error"
  • Radiologists have a duty to interpret radiologic studies reasonably but not necessarily perfectly
Berlin L. Malpractice issues in radiology. 3rd edition, 2009.

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