When Patients Catch Radiology Errors

Posted in: Medical Malpractice | Jun 18,2020

Radiology errors occur far more often than people believe, and very often, it is the patients who catch these errors on their doctor’s notes and other documentation. In fact, as many as one in 5 patients admit they have caught a radiology error on their doctor’s report.

Those findings come from a study conducted by Harvard Medical School, and published recently in the Journal JAMA Network Open. The study was based on a survey of more than 30,000 patients conducted over a period of three months. These patients were analyzed across three healthcare institutions across the country.

The researchers found far too many patients who reported catching possibly serious errors on doctors’ radiology reports.  These errors included potentially serious ones like inaccurate medical histories of the patient, and failure to take correct notes. Patients also found errors related to their medication routines. Some errors that patients caught were technical in nature, but still contained the potential to injure them. In one such error, for instance, an MRI report used both centimetres and millimetres as the tools for measurement. This had the potential to cause confusion to the reader. Many of these mistakes made it difficult for doctors to identify if there was any deterioration or progress in the patient’s condition. Older patients were much more likely to identify and report errors in their radiology reports, compared to younger patients.

According to the results of the study, encouraging patients to respond to their reports could possibly be an effective way of helping control the incidence of such errors.

Overall, medical experts believe that informed patients are safer patients. Encouraging patient responses to their treatment can often help improve patient outcomes. The same seems to also be true for radiology reports.