An X-ray is a valuable tool to diagnose broken bones, internal organ damage, cancer, the extent of a head injury, and many other conditions. Performed and interpreted correctly, an X-ray helps doctors properly diagnose health concerns and determine the right course of treatment. However, an improperly performed X-ray or the misinterpretation of its results can lead to a misdiagnosis, a type of medical malpractice.
Did you miss early treatment options or receive a misdiagnosis due to a misread X-ray? If so, a medical malpractice attorney from Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., can evaluate your case and explain your legal options for pursuing compensation from those who harmed you.
You don’t have to face this challenging time alone. Contact our office today for a free and confidential consultation with our medical malpractice lawyers in Pennsylvania.
Can X-Ray Results Be Wrong?
X-rays require interpretation by trained radiologists. While studies show that there can be discrepancies between radiology reports and subsequent patient outcomes, these are not necessarily errors that equate to negligence. Nevertheless, an interpretation of an X-ray result that deviates from a consensus of trained medical professionals can be considered an error constituting medical malpractice.
Risks of Misread X-Rays and Other Scans
Misread X-ray malpractice can occur when a doctor or radiologist misdiagnoses a patient or fails to see indications that the patient has a severe injury or symptoms of a progressive disease, like cancerous tumors, and therefore fails to properly diagnose the actual condition.
X-rays are sometimes used as stand-alone diagnostic tools. Other times, they can indicate the possibility of abnormalities, prompting doctors to order additional tests or scans.
Examples of significant risks of misread X-rays include the following:
- The patient is diagnosed with a condition they don’t have and undergoes unnecessary invasive medical procedures.
- Signs of disease are present on the X-ray but misinterpreted, so the patient is not diagnosed with the condition they do have and misses out on early treatment options.
Either of these situations could be malpractice, a legal concept wherein a medical professional deviates from the standard of care.. Our medical malpractice lawyers in Pennsylvania can analyze your situation to determine whether your misread X-ray was medical malpractice for which you deserve compensation.
In addition to X-rays, several other types of scans could be linked to medical malpractice. For example, medical professionals could misinterpret the results of a CT, MRI scan or Ultrasound.
Some examples of misread scan malpractice cases our attorneys handle include those where victims suffer the following injuries:
- Severe brain damage due to failure to note swelling or brain bleeding after a head injury
- Cancer progression, where one form of cancer spreads throughout the body
Misreading imaging scans can prove fatal for patients, such as in cases of internal bleeding or rapidly spreading cancer.
Illnesses That Radiologists Often Misdiagnose
Some illnesses and injuries are misdiagnosed more often than others. For instance, a broken leg might be easy to diagnose, but a small lump indicative of a tumor might require further examination.
Cancers are commonly misdiagnosed, especially in their early stages. Radiologists have a duty to communicate possible abnormalities to treating physicians so these doctors can order follow-up tests or rule out other possible causes.
Common Reasons Radiologists Make X-Ray Interpretation Errors
Aradiologist might make an error in interpreting a scan for multiple reasons. For instance, the equipment might be faulty, obsolete, damaged, or incorrectly calibrated to produce an accurate image.
However, radiologists are often to blame for interpretation errors due to the following factors:
- Inexperience – Even with certification and professional education, a radiologist may not have enough experience to note signs of abnormalities.
- Poor training – Lack of training could make a radiologist unqualified to properly interpret scan results.
- Visual fatigue – Radiologists often look at dozens of scans daily, which can lead to visual fatigue.
- Mental fatigue – In busy emergency rooms and other medical facilities, the stress of quickly scanning and reading X-rays can put pressure on radiologists to work quickly and lead to mental fatigue that results in errors.
- Distraction or inattentional blindness – If a radiologist is multi-tasking, they might fail to give their full attention to interpreting scans and miss indications of an abnormality or illness.
- Cognitive bias – Studies indicate multiple types of bias in the radiology field, such as a tendency to diagnose conditions that occur most frequently without considering more unusual conditions or a framing bias, where radiologists are influenced by other presenting symptoms instead of looking strictly at scan results.
Who Is Responsible for Misread X-Rays and Tests
In many cases, the primary responsibility for a misread scan and subsequent liability for injuries lies with the radiologist. However, other parties can be liable for harm resulting from misread X-rays and tests, depending on their actions or inaction.
Parties who may bear responsibility include:
- The medical facility where the X-ray or scan was performed – Hospitals and other medical facilities are required to keep equipment in good working order. If not, even the best radiologist may be unable to receive accurate scans and provide accurate diagnoses. Furthermore, a medical facility or hospital that is chronically understaffed could be responsible for a misread X-ray or test due to a radiologist who is overworked and rushing to perform their duties.
- The treating physician – A treating physician who doesn’t communicate properly with the radiologist performing their patient’s X-rays or other scans could neglect to order proper follow-up tests or fail to properly diagnose the patient, regardless of a radiologist’s accurate reading of an X-ray or scan.
Get Help from an Experienced Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Law Firm
If you or a loved one suffered injuries due to misread X-rays or other scans, you need a proven medical malpractice attorney to help you pursue justice and compensation. The experienced Pennsylvania medical malpractice law firm of Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., stands ready to fight for your rights and interests. We have recovered over $4 billion for our deserving clients throughout Pennsylvania, including many multimillion-dollar recoveries.