When a radiologist incorrectly interprets an x-ray or other medical image or scan, it can result in a harmful misdiagnosis that can compromise a person’s health and overall wellbeing.
Radiology by definition refers to the science and skill of interpreting x-rays, scans or other radioactive tools in which to make a diagnosis of an injury or condition and then provide treatment. The definition of radiology is greater than just x-rays and includes a large variety of imaging methods such as ultrasound, CT scans, PET scans, MRI scans, barium swallows and many more.
It is a common assumption that an x-ray or scan will be completely accurate however, that is not always the case. This is because radiology involves the interpretation of the imaging which relies on a significant level of human judgment and skill which of course carries a risk of making a misdiagnosis. Advancements in technology have allowed different radiological scans to progress in ways never thought possible which has inevitably made the job of a radiologist more challenging - especially when it comes to interpreting the images presented to them and making a diagnosis on the basis of the same. Unfortunately, any errors can lead to problems and, in some circumstances, life-threatening or life-changing problems.
The most common errors are usually due to the following:-
- Communication or administrative errors - where the crucial findings from a radiological scan not being properly recorded and therefore not communicated to patients or their treating clinicians therefore preventing a treatment plan being put in place.
- Overlooking errors - where a radiologist or other doctor visualising the images fails to detect an abnormal finding resulting in the correct diagnosis not being made.
- Interpretation errors - where a radiologist or doctor does spot an abnormality but they then reach an incorrect conclusion about that abnormality so the patient is placed on to an incorrect treatment plan.
- Technical errors - where a radiologist makes a mistake during the scanning process or where the equipment itself fails. This risk is of course exacerbated when the hospital is experiencing staff shortages, funding problems or delays.
Radiologists have a duty to their patients to communicate clearly and efficiently to both the patient and their treating clinicians on any abnormality that can be seen on a scan. When this fails to happen, and a patient has suffered harm as a result they can consider making a medical negligence claim.
If you are worried that you have been misdiagnosed due to one of the errors outlined above or as a result of medical negligence by a radiologist treating you, our team of medical negligence specialists may be able to help and guide you to make a claim for compensation. This can include helping you to cover or recover the costs of any additional treatment you now need as a result of an error. Generally, you only have 3 years from the date of incident or date of knowledge if later, to pursue your claim so it is always best to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity.
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash