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The Consequences of Misinterpreting Radiological Studies

Radiology is an area of medical specialty that involves the evaluation and interpretation of images. It produces films generated by tests including X-Rays, CT scans, MRIs, Mammograms, Sonograms, and Ultrasounds. Radiologists are often the first line of defense for a hospital or emergency room. When a radiologist fails to properly interpret these kinds of studies, the health of the patient is at risk. Read on to learn more about the consequences of misinterpreting radiological studies.

For example, a radiologist may miss a fractured vertebrae in a patient’s neck on a CT scan. A fracture that could, if the vertebrae become displaced toward the spinal cord, result in paralysis.

Consequences

Under different circumstances, a radiologist may miss an aneurysm or early stages of an aortic dissection. This could cause a rupture and result in death.  When these kinds of errors happen, they may amount to medical malpractice.  Although in most cases the radiologist does not communicate with the patient directly, the radiologist’s failure to properly read or interpret a study affects how emergency room physicians care and treat their patients. If a radiologist misreads an image or film and mistakenly rules out the condition that you have, your doctors may fail to treat you for that condition.

Common Medical Error

Another common medical error that radiologists make is failing to timely read and interpret studies. Also, failing to timely communicate results to physicians that have requested the studies.  For example, radiological studies requested while a patient is in the emergency room are ordered immediately.

Policies and Procedures

Most hospitals have policies and procedures that require radiologists who receive a STAT order. Physicians need to interpret those studies within a short period of time. These same hospitals also have policies and procedures that require the radiologists to communicate the results to the ordering doctor within a certain amount of time. This is usually between 10 and 20 minutes.

Radiological studies are also commonly used to monitor patients with chronic conditions. These conditions include tumors. This can also include diagnosing patients with various forms of cancer. In some instances, radiologists simply fail to detect the presence of a tumor. In other instances, radiologists fail to detect that a known tumor has grown or has spread to other areas of the body.

Finally, another common radiological error that occurs is when a patient is receiving “contrast dye” in conjunction with a particular radiological study.  This dye is injected into patients for radiologists to be able to see how it progresses through various anatomical structures. If you or someone you love has suffered as the result of a radiologist’s failure to properly read or interpret a radiological study, call the medical malpractice lawyers of Bennett and Heyman at 410-421-7730.