Radiologic Negligence

There are 3 major causes of radiologic lawsuits:  failure to diagnose, delay in diagnoses, and communication errors.

Failure to diagnose-delay in diagnosis

  • Delay in diagnosis of breast cancer and lung cancer are the two major malignancies that lead to lawsuits.
  • Mischaracterizing lesions as benign or failing to recommend follow up of intermediate or suspicious lesions.
  • Failure to promptly identify strokes in progress relying solely on non-contrast head CT scans.
  • Failure to identify ectopic pregnancy on ultrasound.
  • Failure to identify appendicitis on ultrasound and CT.
  • Failure to identify mesenteric ischemia on CT.
  • Failure to identify ischemia associated with bowel obstruction on CT.
  • Failure to identify closed loop features and ischemia in patients with obstruction related to RYGB.
  • Missing an abscess, adenopathy or mass on MDCT and confusing it for an unopacified bowel loop.

Failure to communicate

  • Failure of the radiologist to communicate significant abnormal radiologic findings directly to the referring physician is a breach of the standard of care that may lead to the patient’s injury or death.
  • Communicating the results of radiologic examinations has become just as much the duty of the radiologist as it is the rendering of interpretations.  Both the courts and the American Council of Radiologists (ACR) have clearly stated that radiologists must verbally communicate urgent, significant, or unexpected findings to the referring physicians.

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