Doctors rely on radiology tests to make correct diagnosis and treatment decisions. Common diagnostic radiology scans include MRIs, CTs, ultrasounds, MR angiograms, and CT angiograms.
Physicians who specialize in reading or interpreting radiology scans are called radiologists. Doctors who specialize in radiology scans of the brain, head, and neck are called neuroradiologists.
As a Houston, Texas, medical malpractice lawyer, I see two common mistakes by radiologists and neuroradiologists. Both can cause devastating outcomes for patients.
The first common error I’ve seen with radiologists is misreading or misinterpreting a scan.
For example, I recently negotiated a large settlement for a client whose abnormal MRI scan was misread by the neuroradiologist as showing no acute (recent) abnormality. At deposition, the doctor admitted that the MRI had findings consistent with a stroke. The botched MRI interpretation led to a misdiagnosis and discharge from the hospital, instead of the emergency treatment that my client needed. As a result, my client ended up having a stroke.
The second common mistake I’ve seen with neuroradiologists or radiologists is failing to notify the attending physician of critical abnormalities.
An emergency room (ER) doctor or other physician who can see and touch the patient orders a radiology scan. The scan is done in the hospital or facility and then the images are electronically sent to a radiologist’s computer in a dark room somewhere—sometimes even in another state. The radiologist will never see the patient in person!
When radiologists see something dangerous on the MRI, CT, or other scan, the standard of care requires them to pick up the phone and notify the doctor who ordered the scan. Sometimes, though, radiologists choose a short-cut and make a note in the written report, rather than taking the extra step of having a conversation with the doctor. This is how critical results fall through the cracks.
What you can do
If you think a radiologist or neuroradiologist botched the interpretation of your CT, MRI, or other scan—and it caused a serious injury—then you should contact an experienced Texas medical malpractice lawyer.
A medical malpractice attorney will investigate your case, including hiring an expert radiologist to review the scans and get to the bottom of what went wrong.
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Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas.