Physicians in West Virginia often rely on reports from radiologists when trying to diagnose their patients. An analysis of over 10,000 closed malpractice claims conducted by an insurer of health professionals between 2013 and 2017 identified radiologists as a vulnerable link in the diagnostic chain. The claim data indicated that the misinterpretation of clinical tests contributed to 80 percent of diagnostic-related insurance claims. When drilling down into diagnostic-related claims, 80 percent of cases resulting from radiologist failures caused permanent injury or death.
Mistakes by radiologists typically contributed to missed opportunities to detect serious cancers like breast, lung, pancreatic and ovarian. A report issued by the Institute of Medicine highlighted the critical role of radiologists and pathologists in producing accurate diagnoses. The report noted that these physicians usually work in isolation from the medical teams attempting to diagnose patients.
The analytic team for the insurance company recommended methods for reducing radiology errors. Researchers suggested that radiologists create standard reporting templates and use decision support films. Their imaging reports could become clearer if they used checklists and plain language as well as separated incidental findings from recommendations.
Healthcare providers have an obligation to maintain accepted standards when diagnosing and treating patients. Misdiagnosis could harm a person by delaying appropriate treatment or applying unnecessary treatment. A consultation with an attorney may help a victim of medical injury determine if damages might be recovered with a medical malpractice claim. An attorney may work to gather evidence showing that a physician or hospital acted negligently by failing to meet standards of care. Initially, an attorney might open negotiations with the responsible party and propose a settlement to pay for extra medical bills and lost income. When necessary, an attorney may advance the case to a court room and seek a jury award.