Medical Malpractice > Misread X-Rays, CT Scans and MRIs


In the last 30 years, medical technology has dramatically changed how doctors diagnose illnesses. Diagnostic imaging, including x-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds, and MRIs, have allowed the non-invasive diagnosis of various diseases. Diagnostic images are crucial in diagnosing serious illnesses and getting patients the needed treatment. Patients can suffer from misdiagnosis if a doctor or radiologist misinterprets X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. As a result, patients’ conditions can go untreated and become worse, even life-threatening.


If you believe a doctor or radiologist misread your diagnostic tests and missed important information that affected your prognosis, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. A medical malpractice attorney at Montross Miller can review the details of your unique situation and help you decide where to go from here.


Consequences of misread scans


Radiologists are physicians who specialize in reading diagnostic images and reporting their findings to your treating doctor. Patients rarely see the radiologist who reads their films, but the radiologist is an essential part of the treatment team. Sometimes the doctor who orders a diagnostic film will read it themself. An accurate reading of diagnostic films is essential regardless of who reads it because it forms the basis for your entire treatment plan.


Occasionally, your medical provider doesn’t order the proper diagnostic, or the films radiologist or treating doctor misreads them. In some cases, the scan is interpreted by another medical professional when it should have been sent to a radiologist instead. These errors can begin a treatment plan that is harmful to the patient or that can delay proper treatment.


If a doctor or radiologist misreads an x-ray, CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound, an injury or illness may go undiagnosed. Misreading a diagnostic image might mean that the radiologist failed to notice an abnormal growth or noticed but incorrectly identified it. If the image is inconclusive based on a patient’s symptoms and medical history, the doctor or radiologist might fail to order additional testing. Diagnostic tests identify all kinds of illnesses and injuries, from broken bones to cancer. Improperly diagnosed conditions can worsen or lead to other complications, causing the patient to suffer unnecessarily.


How often do radiologists make mistakes?

Based on several studies between 1949 and now, the error rate for radiologists is 4 percent. That might not sound like a high number, but since hundreds of millions of diagnostic imaging scans are performed in the U.S. each year, millions of radiology errors annually occur.


Can a radiologist be sued for negligence?

If a radiologist mishandled or misinterpreted your diagnostic images and prevented you from getting the medical care you needed–and if that mistake led to a harm–then the radiologist may be liable for the harm she caused.


However, radiologists are not the only healthcare professionals who can be held responsible for a misread or incorrect ultrasound, x-ray, or other imaging scan. It is possible that the technician performing the scan failed to follow proper procedures. Or, the patient’s primary doctor may have failed to order necessary follow-up tests, communicate test results, or adequately supervise support staff. An attorney can investigate your case to identify all possible at-fault parties.


Is a misread x-ray, CT scan, or MRI malpractice?

Misreading an x-ray, CT scan, ultrasound, or MRI is not always the result of malpractice. To prove medical malpractice, you must show that the radiologist or physician failed to meet the standard of care for radiologists under similar circumstances. This means they failed to notice something another doctor would have caught, for example. Because of their high degree of specialty, radiologists are held to an even higher standard of care than other medical professionals. 


When a patient seeks our help concerning a case of radiology medical malpractice, misread diagnostic films, or failure to order the proper radiological testing, the first step is to get copies of all of the films. A medical malpractice lawyer will consult with our radiology experts to review your medical records and determine whether your doctors violated the standard of care in your treatment.


Our attorneys are intimately familiar with the rules and procedures involved in this area of medical malpractice. We have an extensive network of physician experts and an attorney on staff who is a medical doctor. Contact us today for a free consultation.




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