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Failure to Properly Read/Interpret Radiological Films

Radiology has undeniably helped to advance the medical field, but when these veritable oracles of modern medical technology are misinterpreted, a medical mistake may very well ensue. Make no mistake — the preceding describes a genuine form of medical malpractice.

As medical technology continues to advance, CT scans and MRI’s have provided a means for non-invasive diagnosis and treatment for many diseases and conditions. Medical professionals interpret diagnostic films and in turn report to your doctor. In reality, it is rare for patients to have direct contact with these radiologists. In some cases, orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons may also read and interpret the radiological films, which are the cornerstone for your entire treatment plan; thus, it is absolutely crucial for professionals to accurately read and report the diagnostic films.

In some cases, the proper diagnostic films may not be ordered, or they may be misinterpreted by a radiologist or doctor, which may directly result in serious injury sustained by the patient. Additionally, sufferers of chronic problems, such as brain tumors, have regular MRI or CT scans to monitor their conditions. When these scans are not interpreted properly, devastating consequences may result. Radiological studies can also diagnose many different forms of cancer, and failure to diagnose a cancer or other serious medical condition, has become a sadly common occurrence. Fortunately, a medical mistake lawyer can offer medical malpractice help for victims of medical negligence that resulted from the misinterpretation of radiological films.

If you or someone you love suffered as a result of a medical professional’s failure to properly read and interpret or communicate radiological data, we encourage you to call a veteran medical mistake lawyer of Snyder & Snyder, serving in Maryland and DC areas, for a free consultation.

Is a health care provider’s failure to properly interpret radiological films considered medical malpractice?
When a person entrusted with your health care fails to properly interpret radiological films, your health is at stake. When this failure to properly interpret the films leads you to experience a medical injury, this error may amount to medical malpractice. A personal injury attorney can help you determine if your injury was caused by the health care professional’s failure to interpret the film.

What is a radiologist?
A radiologist is a medical specialist who evaluates and interprets diagnostic films, including ultrasounds, sonograms, mammograms, MRIs, CT scans and x-rays. Numerous hospital patients rely on a radiologist’s interpretation of these films for appropriate diagnosis and medical treatment.

In most cases, the medical standard of care does not require a radiologist to communicate directly with a patient. Typically, the radiologist will notify a physician about the diagnostic interpretation of the film. Communication errors can result in misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose significant medical conditions.

How are radiological films useful in a health care setting?
In recent years, less invasive medical procedures have been recognized as effective alternatives to diagnose many conditions and diseases. Ultrasounds, MRIs, CT scans and sonograms are effective tools for diagnosing a number of conditions. Failure to accurately read and interpret the radiological films can result in misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a serious medical condition, such as cancer or diabetes.

What types of medical conditions may be missed due to a radiologist’s failure to interpret radiological film?
A radiologist who fails to properly read or interpret radiological film may miss the following diagnoses:
• Fractures of the arm, leg, wrist, spine, ribs or hip
• Presence of tumors or cancer
• Ulcers
• Internal bleeding
• Organ perforation
• Intestinal perforation
• Problematic prenatal conditions

How common are radiological errors?

According to a study published in the September 2007 edition of the American Journal of Roentgenology, approximately 4 percent of radiological films are misinterpreted. While most of these diagnostic errors are minor, some of these errors can cause patients to experience significant injuries.

Teleradiology can also make things worse. According to NBC News, a number of medical malpractice suits arise out of situations where a radiological film is sent to a nearby county, or to a radiologist not working at the hospital. In these instances, communication between physicians and teleradiologists can fall short, and important facets of patient medical history can be lost.

My doctor’s misinterpretation of radiological film led to a significant delay in diagnosis. As a result, my condition has worsened. What are my rights?
If your doctor failed to read your radiological film appropriately and you suffered a significant delay in treatment, you may have a legal case for medical malpractice. A medical malpractice attorney can help to assess the situation and help you seek compensation for your injuries. Because radiologists are responsible for diagnosing serious medical conditions, their misinterpretation of radiological films can have life-threatening consequences. For this reason, recovery for these types of legal claims may be significant.

How can an attorney prove that a radiologist failed to interpret the films?
Medical malpractice attorneys are skilled at investigating, researching and proving cases of medical negligence. A medical malpractice attorney will rely on the opinion of a skilled radiologist who has experience reading and interpreting radiological film. This medical expert’s opinion is extremely important to determine whether the medical professional deviated from the established standard of care associated with the profession. If the expert is able to make the case that the radiologist should have been able to recognize and diagnose a condition based on radiological films, then you may have a legal argument for negligence.

Do I need a lawyer to help me prove radiological error?
Hospitals and insurance companies typically have powerful legal teams standing by to defend them from lawsuits. These legal teams work specifically on defending medical malpractice cases and are very good at protecting their company’s bottom line.

If you bring a claim for medical negligence against a hospital or insurance company, you may be offered a settlement agreement. While the settlement offer may seem like a victory, it is important to remember that their goal is to pay as little money as possible. You may quickly find out that the sum that you are offered is not adequate to pay for your growing medical expenses.

A medical malpractice lawyer will have experience taking on powerful legal teams and proving medical negligence. Your lawyer will help to level the playing field so that you will have a chance at recovering enough money to pay for your past and future medical expenses, lost wages and other damages you experienced due to the negligence of a health care provider.