Cancer Radiology Diagnostic Errors

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Radiology mistakes are asserted in a small percentage of all U.S. medical malpractice lawsuits. But the clear majority of medical malpractice claims that do include radiology diagnostic errors are filed on behalf of cancer patients.

That’s a key finding in research published online late May in the Journal of the American College of Radiology. The study, “Oncologic Errors in Diagnostic Radiology: A 10-Year Analysis Based on Medical Malpractice Claims,” reviewed medical malpractice lawsuits from 2008 to 2017.

The study found that radiology, or imaging, was the primary medical service cited in 4% of all medical malpractice claims over those 10 years.  Also, almost 13% of all medical malpractice cases between 2008 and 2017 involved allegations of some sort of diagnostic error. The data come from a database created by the Controlled Risk Insurance Company (CRICO).

Medical Imaging Mistakes

When combining the two factors of diagnostic errors and imaging, researchers uncovered a frequently appearing thread in the medical malpractice lawsuits. And that was oncology.  Cancer-related conditions accounted for close to half (44%) of all medical malpractice claims of radiology misdiagnoses. That was far more than for any other medical condition.

Researchers reported that the lion’s share of cancer patients with radiology diagnostic errors – 79% - suffered significant harm.

The most frequently asserted diagnostic error was misinterpretation of imaging results.  It was identified in 81% of the medical malpractice claims.  Most often they appeared in claims regarding:

·         Mammography

·         Computerized tomography (CT) scan

·         Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Misdiagnosed Conditions That Cause The Most Serious Patient Harm

The finding of a large number of lawsuits asserting misdiagnosis of cancer is not new.

Using the same database, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers found in 2019 that three wrongly diagnosed conditions accounted for nearly three-quarters of lawsuits for patients who died or were permanently disabled.

Cancer was found to be the misdiagnosed condition leading to the highest amount of serious patient injuries.  All told, allegedly misdiagnosed cancers accounted for 37% of all patient deaths or permanent disabilities involved in the medical malpractice cases.

The two other misdiagnosed conditions with the greatest patient harm were:

·         Vascular events

·         Infections

These studies document the serious consequences of misdiagnoses, especially for critical conditions such as cancer.  Unfortunately, misdiagnoses of a wide variety of medical conditions adversely affect thousands of families every year.

If you or a loved one suffered catastrophic harm from a missed, delayed or wrong diagnosis, consider speaking with a personal injury lawyer.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Blog June 18, 2021


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