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The Radiologist Misread Your Mammogram or X-Ray – Is That Medical Malpractice? | Guy S. DiMartino DC, JD, PA

Guy DiMartino June 6, 2013

Florida medical malpractice lawyer, Guy S. DiMartino explains radiologist medical malpractice.

It happens all too often. Somebody goes in for a test say a mammogram, lower GI or a plain x-ray and they are told everything is okay. After a period of time, however, they learn that the person who read the study made a mistake and the problem was clearly present on the study. Now, the patient learns that he has cancer that has progressed or another problem that would have been much easier to treat if it was diagnosed timely. Is there malpractice on the part of the radiologist, the doctor that reviewed the study?

Radiologist Medical Malpractice

Radiologists, like all doctors, are required to comply with the standard of care. In legal terms, the standard of care is defined as what would the reasonable radiologist have done is the same or similar circumstances. If it is clear that the lesion was on the prior study, the radiologist was probably negligent. The next question that has to be answered is – did the delay in diagnosis because the radiologist misread the study make a difference in the outcome? Let me give you a couple of examples to illustrate the point.

A person falls, injures their arm and goes to the emergency room. The emergency room doctor evaluates the patient and orders an x-ray of the arm. The radiologist tells the ER doctor that everything is normal. The ER doctor discharges the patient. A week later the patient returns to the ER in worse pain and another x-ray shows the arm is broken. The patient is taken into surgery and the fracture is corrected. The initial radiologist looks at the first x-ray and she missed the fracture. If the patient would not have needed surgery at the time of the initial visit and misread, then they may have a case. However, if the patient would have needed surgery anyway, there is probably no case.

Another example of this concept happens all the time in delayed cancer diagnosis cases. For instance, a patient goes in for a mammogram or a chest x-ray. There is a problem on the initial study but the radiologist reports the study as normal. A period of time goes by and a repeat study is done that shows the lesion has grown. A review of the initial study also shows the lesion. In these cases, the patient may have a malpractice case if an expert would testify that the patient would have a better outcome or would have survived if the radiologist did not misread the initial study. With some cancers the medical literature just doesnt support this conclusion. For instance, in some lung cancers, the five year survival is so low that the earlier diagnosis may not make a difference in the patients survival.

Medicine is complex which is why a patient who believes they have been a victim of medical malpractice should discuss their concerns with one or more medical malpractice lawyers. Sometimes the doctor was clearly negligent in the care and treatment of a patient but the patient or their family will not be able to recover.

If you have any questions about a Florida medical malpractice case, you can always call me directly on my cell at 352-267-9168 or fill out the internet consultation form on the right.