Coverys, the liability insurance provider that covers medical practitioners, recently reported the findings of a study it conducted on radiology-related claims. Researchers analyzed over 10,000 closed claims spanning from 2013 to 2017, and they were able to identify major risk factors and safety issues. Kentucky residents who need to undergo X-rays or other radiological procedure should take note.

Researchers found that a great number of claims involved missed, delayed or wrong diagnoses. Roughly 80 percent of these diagnosis-related claims were due to misinterpretations of clinical tests, and more than 80 percent of claims involving a missed diagnosis ended in death or serious, permanent injuries.

Where there were alleged cases of diagnostic failure, researchers found that cancer was the most frequently misdiagnosed condition, especially breast, lung, pancreatic and ovarian cancer. Claims were mostly alleged against general medicine providers, but radiologists were involved in 15 percent of the allegations.

Radiologists and pathologists have a critical role in accurate diagnoses, according to the Institute of Medicine. However, the claims data shows that they are not being used by diagnostic teams as often as they should. Researchers recommend various steps to ensure better patient outcomes, including standardizing treatment protocols and using clear language to avoid misunderstandings. Checklists could also be implemented and reporting templates developed.

For an error like a misdiagnosis to qualify as medical malpractice, several requirements must be met. There must be an existing relationship between the doctor and victim, and the doctor must be shown to have failed in upholding an objective standard of care. This is why it’s crucial to have a lawyer on the case. A lawyer could request an inquiry with the medical board and even bring in third parties to conduct their own investigation. A victim can have their lawyer speak on their behalf either at the negotiation table or in court.