When people think of medical malpractice in West Virginia, they often think of a negligent surgeon who injures a patient or a doctor who harms someone by prescribing the wrong medication.
But radiologists also face serious accusations of medical malpractice, most often because they fail to detect a lesion and then are part of a failure to diagnose breast cancer.
Radiologists are doctors whose specialty is diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries, using medical imaging technologies such as an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), x-ray or other technique.
A new study published in the Radiology journal is an analysis of nearly 4,800 malpractice claims against more than 2,600 radiologists in virtually every state.
At the top of the list of missed diagnoses: failure to notice a lesion on a mammography. Of course, once that error has been made, the radiologist also fails to order follow-up tests on the woman. The error is compounded when treatment then fails to take place, allowing the cancer to do what it will.
One of the authors of the study told a media outlet that the mammography tool is itself partly to blame for some missed diagnoses. He said the technique used over the past 10 years or so is not optimal when breasts are "dense."
He said researchers noticed that communication problems between radiologists, patients and other physicians are apparently not as severe as some believe.
Radiologists typically communicate directly with patients in discussing mammography results. In other radiology work, the referring doctor is typically the one to discuss scan results with the patients.
Anyone who suffered through a failure to diagnose breast cancer should discuss their experience with a law firm with a track record of holding accountable negligent radiologists and others.
Source: DotMed.com, "Radiologists see most malpractice suits for mammography," Loren Bonner, Feb. 6, 2013
- Our Charleston firm represents clients across West Virginia in medical malpractice claims involving a failure to diagnose breast cancer.