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How accurate are radiology reports?

A new report finds that radiological errors are common and in many cases are connected to serious injury or death of a patient.

New York residents may need to have radiological tests performed as part of their routine preventive health checks or in order to investigate potential health problems. Regardless of the reason for a test, patients deserve to trust that the results will be accurate, especially if a medical problem is identified or suspected. Radiology tests include procedures such as mammograms, x-rays, MRIs and CAT scans.

An insurance company, Coverys, recently conducted research into medical malpractice claims and found some very disturbing information. In what it calls its Red Signal Report, Coverys alleges that not only are errors involving radiology results common, these errors can have severe impacts on patients.

Delayed or incorrect treatment

According to Health Imaging, the research reviewed an estimated 10,000 medical malpractice claims spanning five years from 2013 to 2017. Radiologists were involved in more than any other type of provider except for general practitioners. Incorrect readings were associated delayed or incorrect treatments being provided to patients. Also noted was a lack of follow up when abnormalities appeared.

Radiology errors were noted in 15 percent of the reviewed cases and death or permanent injuries were involved in eight of ten of those claims.

Ovarian cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and lung cancer were the conditions most commonly associated with the radiology mistakes in the report.

Call for changes in radiology practices

Radiology Business indicates that in addition to highlighting the problems associated with some radiological results, the Coverys report put forth recommendations to improve outcomes and patient safety.

These include things that some might consider elementary and, therefore shocking that they have not already been part of standard procedures.

Recommendations included the creation of reporting templates that separate what are considered incidental findings from primary ones to give better visibility to potential problems. Use of clear language was also promoted as a way of avoiding confusion or misunderstandings.

The development of standard treatment protocols and clear criteria for when additional testing may be required or recommended were also called for by the researchers compiling the Coverys report.

Legal help recommended for patients and family members

People in New York who believe that they or a loved one may have been negatively impacted by a radiology error should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney. This will give them access to someone who can explain the laws and the process for seeking justice and compensation.

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