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Many radiology-related mistakes end in death, says Coverys

Researchers at Coverys, the provider of liability insurance to medical practitioners and health systems, have analyzed over 10,000 radiology-related medical malpractice claims filed between 2013 and 2017 and now closed. Their intention was to identify major risk factors and safety vulnerabilities. The results of their study should be of interest to Oklahoma residents.

Among diagnosis-related claims, most of the allegations involved general medicine providers, followed by 15 percent that involved radiologists. 80 percent of these claims arose from the misinterpretation of clinical tests. Researchers state that radiology mistakes are all too common and often lead to missed, delayed or incorrect diagnoses. More than 80 percent of the diagnostic mistakes analyzed ended in serious, permanent injury or in death.

Cancer was the most repeatedly missed condition among those diagnosis-related claims. The major cancers were those of the breast, lung, pancreas and ovaries. Though radiology and pathology professionals have a critical role in an accurate diagnosis, researchers found that they were not that frequently engaged in the diagnostic process.

Coverys recommends several steps as a way to reduce risks and improve patient outcomes. They include the standardization of treatment protocols, the use of decision support films and the development of reporting templates. They also encourage medical practitioners to separate the imaging report from the incidental findings and their own recommendations and to always use clear language.

When a failed or delayed diagnosis causes injury, victims can see if they have the grounds for a medical malpractice claim. These claims can end in large settlements, so it may be helpful to have a lawyer take on the case. A lawyer mgiht hire third-party medical experts to determine the extent of the injuries; he or she could also request an inquiry with the local medical board. Once the proof has been gathered, the lawyer may opt to begin negotiations.