Common Malpractice Claims Against Radiologists

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Common malpractice claims against radiologists

Advances in radiologic technology in recent years have led to an increase in the role of the radiologist related to patient care. Increasing numbers of legal claims against radiologists have naturally followed as radiologists take on additional responsibility for patient diagnoses. Based on recent statistics, 31% of radiologists can expect to be involved in a lawsuit during their careers.

Diagnostic errors are the most common trigger for malpractice lawsuits against radiologists in the United States. Seventy-five percent of claims against radiologists stem from failure to diagnose a disease or communicate a possible diagnosis to a patient or that patient’s physicians.

The most frequently missed diagnoses are:

  • Breast cancer
  • Non-spinal fractures
  • Spinal fractures
  • Lung cancer
  • Vascular disease

Diagnostic errors are a tricky subject because of the subjective nature of interpreting mammograms, MRIs, CT scans and x-rays. Even a skilled radiologist can overlook or misinterpret certain abnormalities.

Communication with a patient’s referring physician is another important part of a radiologist’s job. Some lawsuits come about because a radiologist failed to provide test results to the referring physician or did not mention concerns that should have led to further diagnostic tests.

As noted in “Malpractice in Radiology: What Should You Worry About?” by Alessandro Cannavale et al, distributed under CC 3.0, there are four ways for a radiologist to minimize his or her malpractice risks:

  1. Follow the standard of care as closely as possible.
  2. Be careful in the off-label use of devices.
  3. Improve communication skills with colleagues, nurses, technicians and, overall, patients.
  4. Get malpractice insurance.

Lockton Health offers radiologists and radiology students highly-rated malpractice insurance designed to cover defense costs and judgments or settlements as the result of litigation – up to $4 million of aggregate Professional Liability Insurance. No matter how experienced and skilled you are, there’s always a chance that you might be involved in a lawsuit. Insurance protection gives you peace of mind as you go about your work.