Radiologists compose approximately 3.6 percent of all physicians in the United States. Even though a relatively small portion of the medical field, radiologists are ranked sixth for medical malpractice lawsuits. Only obstetricians, internists, family physicians, general surgeons and orthopedists face a higher number of allegations of wrongdoing from patients.
A study published by the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) digs into this issue. The study used data from 8401 radiologists practicing in 47 states throughout the country. Of this group, researchers found 31 percent of radiologists faced at least one medical malpractice lawsuit during their career.
Patients were most likely to pursue a claim for missed diagnosis. A recent case provides an example. The case involves a physician practicing at a Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital. After review of a kidney scan, a coworker noticed a previous radiologist's interpretation of an older scan was wrong. The original radiologist had, allegedly, missed a tumor within the kidney. Since that time, the tumor has allegedly grown to the point where surgical removal is no longer an option.
The patient could use this information to build a medical malpractice claim against the radiologist for a failure to diagnose the cancer. In order to build a successful claim, the patient would likely need to produce evidence of the cancer as well as evidence that the cancer was present in the previous, older scan. That patient would also need to use medical experts to provide testimony to establish the original radiologist failed to meet the acceptable standard of care in the profession when conducting the original read.
Allegations of this nature are serious. If successful, the patient could hold the medical professional legally accountable for the damage caused by the cancer. Radiologists can build a defense against these accusations. An attorney experienced in these matters can help.