The Impact of a Misread X-Ray, CT Scan, or MRI

Doctors can order a variety of diagnostic studies to assist them in determining a patient’s injury or disease. One such group of diagnostic studies are x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. These are all non-invasive studies reviewed and interpreted by radiologists. Radiologists form a specialized field that is responsible for administering tests and interpreting the results to diagnose whether there are any injuries or diseases present. The radiologist will summarize their findings in a report that is sent to the ordering doctor. Strange as it may seem, the patient rarely meets the radiologist, who is often a critical part of the patient’s treatment team. Based on the radiologist’s interpretation and the ordering doctor’s own history of the patient, a treatment plan is formulated. Therefore, an accurate reading of these diagnostic studies is an essential part of your medical treatment.

When a mistake is made from interpreting these tests, the consequences can be far reaching sometimes causing serious health problems. There is a study published in the British Medical Journal that states that 40,500 adult patients in intensive care units die each year from misdiagnosis.

Doctors can make different types of mistakes in reading X-rays. They may not see what is on the film. Some examples are failure to see a bone fracture, not seeing a bowel obstruction, failure to see cancer cells. In any situation when a mistake is made, the key will be to determine who made the error, and whether the mistake was one that a reasonable provider would have made. To hold any healthcare provider responsible for misread tests and X-rays, the patient will need to show:

1) That the provider owed the patient a duty – For example, doctors have a duty to perform tests correctly and to make their patients aware of adverse lab results.

2) The provider breached the duty – This is determined by a “reasonable professional” standard. Would a reasonable doctor, nurse, hospital or lab tech with the same background have made the same mistake in the same situation? If not, then the provider who made the error is negligent.

3) Did the mistake directly lead to harm – You will need to show that the misread diagnostic films were the direct cause of some harm to you that wouldn’t have otherwise occurred if the error had never been made.

If you can prove all of these elements, you should be entitled to compensation for all financial and non-economic losses that occur as a result of these errors.

The Thistle Law Firm is experienced in handling misread diagnostic films leading to catastrophic injury or death. If you or a loved one have suffered this kind of injury, the attorneys at the Thistle Law Firm are here to discuss your options at 215-525-6824.

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