According to a study published by the journal Radiology, a missed diagnosis or diagnostic error is the primary cause for medical malpractice claims against radiologists in the United States. The New Jersey Medical School compiled histories of radiologists from 1955 through 2010 and examined the alleged reasons for the filed malpractice claims. Of the 8,265 radiologists whose histories were reviewed for the study, 2,624 had at least one medical malpractice claim in their career.
Radiologists from 46 states comprised the study group, and all are registered members of One Call Medical, an organization that facilitates Workers’ Compensation claims by providing recommendations for diagnostic and radiological services. In order to be listed as part of One Call Medical’s provider network, radiologists must be fully licensed in the state in which they practice and accredited by either the American Board of Radiology or the American Osteopathic Board of Radiology. They must also provide a complete work and education history and have valid liability insurance in accordance with their states’ requirements. Radiologists must disclose any history of medical malpractice claims as part of the application process, which could be grounds for refusal.
The study found that diagnostic error was the most frequent cause cited for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against a radiologist, averaging 14.83 claims per 1000-person year. Among these claims, breast cancer was the most frequent missed diagnosis, totaling 3.57 of the claims. Other common missed diagnoses included both non-spinal and spinal fractures (2.49 and 1.32 claims, respectively), lung cancer (1.26 claims), and vascular disease (1.08 claims).
Aside from missed diagnosis, medical malpractice claims against radiologists included procedural complications, radiologist-referrer communication, failure to recommend further testing, and inadequate doctor-patient communication. The study did not include patient outcome or the results of the claims, and only showed that a claim had been submitted in these cases.
The study showed that radiologists in New Jersey were among those sued most frequently, as were radiologists in nearby Pennsylvania and New York. Utah and Florida were also in this group, while radiologists in Wisconsin, Alabama, North Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Nebraska were sued the least frequently. Of the 2,624 radiologists in the study who had medical malpractice claims filed against them, 1,515 had been sued once in their career; 599 had been sued twice; and 486 had been sued three times or more.
If you suspect that a doctor has misdiagnosed you or someone you love, or has committed another act of medical malpractice, the medical malpractice lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP can help. We will fully investigate the details of your situation to determine if a medical malpractice lawsuit is appropriate. Our highly skilled and experienced New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys will provide you with detailed information about what legal options are available, support you through the difficult litigation process and fight to secure you the proper compensation.
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