Radiology errors occur when medical professionals misinterpret or mishandle imaging studies, leading to incorrect diagnoses or treatments. Such mistakes are medical malpractice because they can significantly impact patient care.

Radiology is the foundation of numerous medical decisions, so any errors in this field can cause a cascade of health issues, from delayed treatment to misdiagnosis.

If you or a loved one has suffered due to a radiology error, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim against those responsible.

The radiology errors attorneys at Baird Mandalas Brockstedt & Federico understand the critical role of accurate radiology in patient care and are committed to holding those who fail in their duty accountable.

Contact us to explore how we can assist you in navigating your legal rights and pursuing justice.

What is a Radiology Error?

A radiology error occurs when a radiologist misinterprets imaging results or fails to notice an abnormality, leading to an incorrect diagnosis or treatment.

The term “error” suggests a clear-cut deviation from what is medically correct, assuming that the radiologist should have, and could have, accurately diagnosed or reported the condition. However, reality often involves a spectrum of interpretations. This variability introduces a gray area between error and reasonable professional judgment.

In our experience, the line between a genuine error and a difference in professional opinion is not always clear-cut. While some practitioners assert that their diagnostic decisions represent reasonable differences of opinion, many mistakes are preventable.

We recognize that radiology is complex and interpretive, and not every misdiagnosis is due to negligence. However, we also believe in accountability for clear errors that significantly impact patient health. 

Most Common Errors in Radiology 

An estimated one billion radiologic examinations occur annually globally. This process forms the crux of a practicing radiologist’s daily activities.

Radiology errors broadly fall into two categories: perceptual errors, often termed misses, where critical findings go unnoticed, and cognitive errors or misunderstandings, where anomalies are detected but misinterpreted due to flawed reasoning or cognitive biases. Perceptual errors constitute 60 to 80% of diagnostic inaccuracies, while cognitive errors comprise 20% to 40%.

The most common medical errors in radiology involve the following: 

  • False-positive or over-reading error. This occurs when a radiologist incorrectly interprets normal anatomy or benign findings as abnormal, leading to unnecessary further investigations or treatments.
  • Faulty-reasoning error. This error arises from an incorrect interpretation or assessment of an observed anomaly, often due to flawed logic or misapplication of medical knowledge.
  • Lack of knowledge error. This occurs when a radiologist’s gap in knowledge leads to a missed or incorrect diagnosis, highlighting the need for continuous learning in the field.
  • Under-reading. This error refers to situations where the radiologist misses an abnormality on the imaging, often due to haste or inattention.
  • Poor communication-related error. Errors in this category result from inadequate information exchange between radiologists and other healthcare providers, leading to misinterpretation or mismanagement.
  • Technique-related error. These errors occur when imaging is compromised due to incorrect technique, patient positioning, or equipment failure, affecting the accuracy of the diagnosis.
  • Prior examination-related error. This error happens when previous imaging is either reviewed or misinterpreted, leading to an incorrect understanding of the patient’s condition.
  • History-related error. Inaccurate or incomplete patient history can lead to misdiagnosis, as the context in which imaging is interpreted is crucial for accuracy.
  • Location-related error. These errors occur when a radiologist misses a diagnosis because their attention is focused on the wrong area of the image.
  • Satisfaction of search. This error happens when a radiologist identifies one abnormal finding and prematurely ends the search, overlooking other significant anomalies.
  • Complication. This involves failing to recognize or anticipate potential complications from radiological procedures or interpretations, leading to patient harm.
  • Satisfaction of report. This occurs when radiologists rely too heavily on previous reports without thoroughly analyzing the current images, potentially perpetuating past errors.

The radiology errors lawyer at Baird Mandalas Brockstedt & Federico diligently assesses each case, identifying and addressing the nuances that could indicate a radiological misstep to ensure that those impacted by such errors receive the justice and resolution they deserve.

Factors Contributing to Radiological Errors

Radiological errors can stem from various factors, often without a clear technical cause. These factors generally fall into two categories: those related to the individual radiologist and those arising from the systemic environment in which they operate.

Radiologist-Specific Factors

Radiologists may lack the necessary knowledge to identify or dismiss findings accurately. This knowledge gap can lead to reporting errors in radiology, where significant abnormalities go unnoticed or insignificant findings receive undue attention.

Complacency or faulty reasoning can also contribute to misinterpretation, as can a tendency to consistently over-read (seeing problems where none exist) or under-read (missing actual abnormalities).

Communication plays a crucial role in the diagnostic process, and failures to convey findings or their significance effectively can lead to misdiagnoses or inadequate patient management.

Systemic Factors

On a broader scale, systemic issues can significantly impact radiological accuracy. Staff shortages and excessive workloads can lead to fatigue and errors, while inexperience may result in a lack of necessary skill or judgment.

Equipment quality and the reporting environment, such as poor lighting conditions, can also affect a radiologist’s ability to diagnose accurately. 

Who is Responsible for Radiology Errors in Maryland?

In Maryland, liability for a radiology error can extend beyond the radiologist and may include the medical staff involved in patient care and the healthcare facility where the error occurred.

Liability arises when these parties fail to meet the established standard of care in diagnosing or treating the patient. A radiology errors attorney on our team can scrutinize the circumstances of each case to determine who is responsible for the oversight or misdiagnosis.

What Types of Damages are Available in Radiology Error Cases?

Victims of radiology errors in Maryland may be entitled to collect damages for their suffering. These damages can cover medical expenses incurred due to the error, including costs for additional treatments or corrective procedures. They may also include compensation for lost wages if the error results in an inability to work temporarily or permanently. 

Moreover, victims can seek damages for pain and suffering, which address the physical and emotional distress caused by the radiological error.

In some instances, if the mistake demonstrates gross negligence, punitive damages might also be awarded, serving as punishment for the responsible parties and as a deterrent against future misconduct. An experienced attorney can evaluate your case and help determine which types of damages you may be eligible for. 

Have You Suffered as a Result of a Radiology Error?

If you or a loved one was misdiagnosed due to a radiologist’s error, the law firm of Baird Mandalas Brockstedt & Federico can help you understand your rights and inform you of your options for moving forward with a claim.

We’ve assembled a dedicated team of Maryland medical malpractice lawyers who regularly handle cases involving radiologist mistakes. We offer all prospective clients a free consultation, during which we will answer your questions, explain your rights, and discuss a strategy for pursuing compensation.

If you decide to move ahead with your case, we will not bill you for our services unless and until we can recover compensation on your behalf. To learn more about our services and schedule a free consultation today, give us a call or connect with us through our secure online contact form.