It's reasonable to expect medical professionals to accurately identify injuries, medical conditions, and other identifiable concerns when performing expensive diagnostic tests.
It would be best if you did not have to pay the bill for medical treatment associated with a failed diagnosis by healthcare providers.
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can help you pursue a radiology mistake lawsuit, financial compensation, and justice. Our legal team can ensure you or a loved one holds those at-fault accountable for everything you have endured.
Discuss your compensation claim with a Chicago, IL, attorney who will protect your rights and obtain the financial compensation you deserve. Contact our Chicago law offices at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) to schedule a free consultation with our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers today.
Diagnostic tests like an X-ray, CT scan, and ultrasound might only be as helpful as those that correctly interpret the results. If the radiologist fails to accurately diagnose a condition it could be catastrophic.
Unfortunately, patients could suffer severe injuries when healthcare professionals fail to treat the condition because of a delayed diagnosis or missed diagnosis revealed by tests at doctors' offices, hospitals, and emergency rooms.
Critical Medical Conditions Identified Through Imaging Scans
An X-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, and imaging scan allow us to do what was once impossible— look beyond the body's external surface and identify injuries and areas of concern below the skin.
These tests are instrumental in determining if an athlete or accident victim has a broken bone or can diagnose the spread of an infection within the body.
Some severe concerns that can be identified through imaging scans include:
- Developmental problems throughout pregnancy: Identifying risks and potentially life-threatening conditions throughout pregnancy could allow doctors to reduce the risk of congenital disabilities or birth injuries.
For example, an ultrasound during labor could inform doctors that the umbilical cord is wrapped around the fetus' neck, resulting in an emergency response to save the child's life and prevent brain damage.
- Internal wounds, bleeding, or hemorrhaging: The failure to locate the internal wound and provide treatment can severely damage internal organs or cause death if the patient is bleeding internally.
- Traumatic brain injuries: The injuries do not always present with symptoms initially. The damage becomes extensive when patients exhibit signs of a serious injury. It is always advisable to undergo testing for a TBI following trauma to the head, regardless of how you feel. Early diagnosis of a brain injury may lead to a much more favorable prognosis.
- Development or spread of cancer: The survival rate of cancer patients in the early stages is exponentially higher than those whose cancer has progressed or spread to other areas of the body. Failure to diagnose cancer early on can become a death sentence, as most stage IV cancers have survival rates below 20%. Examples include lung cancer and breast cancer.
Our Chicago radiologist malpractice attorneys were alarmed to discover through a study conducted in the British Medical Journal that over 40,000 patients die yearly because their doctors failed to diagnose their conditions. The alarming rate is simply unacceptable.
Doctors must take the time needed to examine and interpret the results of the diagnostic tests so that their diagnosis can be accurate and the treatment they recommend is appropriate for better well-being.
Medical Negligence in Radiological Cases
If a radiologist misses an important finding on a scan, it can have devastating consequences for the patient.
Radiologists are human, and sometimes they do make mistakes. It may be considered malpractice if a radiologist makes a mistake and harms the patient.
However, the fact that a radiologist misses an anomaly during interpretation does not mean they are automatically liable for any resulting harm.
For a radiologist to be held liable for negligence and malpractice, it must be proven that the radiologist was negligent.
Doctors Are Not Solely Liable for Defective X-rays and Radiology Errors
You need to identify what went wrong and whose fault it is if your doctor failed to diagnose your condition. Without proof, you may seek compensation for damages from the wrong party and decrease your chances of successfully resolving your lawsuit.
Before a reasonable radiologist can properly interpret test results, the tests must be administered and handled by a radiology technician who could commit diagnostic errors, skewing the results.
Human errors cause many medical mistakes resulting in medication errors. It is reasonable for the patient to expect the imaging department to double-check results and ensure that tests are adequately performed before sending the results to the treating doctor or professional diagnostician.
Your doctor must then interpret the information correctly and diagnose the serious injury or medical condition to ensure that the patient receives the proper treatment.
A Failure to Diagnose Leads to Medical Malpractice Claims
The diagnostic error rate in the United States involving x-rays, CT scans, and magnetic resident imaging is considerable. According to the National Institutes of Health, medical mistakes, including radiological imaging errors and wasted medical spending, claim the lives of approximately 10% of preventable deaths in adverse emergency room events and hospital visits.
According to statistics, over half of all civil lawsuits involving radiological negligence result from a mistake in a missed diagnosis or a failure to diagnose. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) defines a diagnostic error as failing to follow protocol or making a mistake during the diagnostic process that leads to a missed or delayed diagnosis.
Radiologist mistakes in diagnosing the patient's condition can happen at nearly every stage of the diagnostic process, including:
- Not ordering a diagnostic test
- Ordering the wrong diagnostic test
- Performing the test inaccurately
- Misinterpreting the test results due to a radiologist failing to diagnose lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, brain cancer, vascular injuries, or another deadly disease detectable in the x-rays
- Using defective equipment, including MRI, CT scan, ultrasound, and x-ray
- A lack of communication and teamwork
- Technical failures
- Poorly established policies and other interventional procedures
Any cognitive limitation in a medical team can lead to an inaccurate diagnosis of the patient's condition. Any failure to diagnose may result from a professional team member who is tired, ill, moody, biased, or lacks the level of expertise necessary to take or interpret the images accurately.
Many radiologists feel the stress and pressure of a heavy workload necessitating the interpretation of many images quickly. According to statistics, the typical radiology error rate averages about five percent every year.
With over one billion radiologic image examinations performed every year worldwide, a five percent error rate would result in over forty million diagnostic mistakes.
Many of these errors involve the wrong test result interpretation, neglecting abnormalities apparent in the test image result, and a failure to contact the patient to discuss their test results.
Radiology malpractice typically involves diagnostic radiology errors and healthcare negligence that leads to diagnosis failure. The mistakes can occur in hospitals, medical centers, doctors' offices, and emergency rooms.
Physicians, radiologists, and other medical professionals can be found civilly liable (guilty) for healthcare malpractice if the victim can establish four essential elements.
The elements include:
- A doctor-patient relationship exists
- The victim can prove that the radiologist committed a negligent act, which breached their duty of care to the individual (standard of care breach)
- The professional radiologist makes a mistake that resulted in the victim's injuries (proximate cause), and a prudent radiologist would have acted differently in similar circumstances
- The patient's injuries were real and documented because the radiologist committed negligence
If the case goes to trial, the jury, and sometimes the judge will decide "trier of fact," determining if the radiologist/medical professional/physician's conduct constituted negligence if a prudent radiologist would have interpreted the results differently in similar circumstances.
However, medical malpractice lawyers resolve more than 90% of all negligence and malpractice claims through negotiated settlements rather than trialing the case.
A patient safety advocacy group has released a report detailing what it says are severe shortcomings in the way some hospitals screen and hire radiologists.
Samples of Illinois Radiology Malpractice Jury Verdicts and Settlements
Below are some sample radiology malpractice cases involving radiological errors. We are including these to give you an idea of how most radiology malpractice cases may be evaluated by a jury or defense lawyer.
We recognize that these malpractice claims may raise additional questions about your particular malpractice claims.
$1,021,716 Verdict; Misinterpreted X-ray and Radiology Error Lawsuit; Cook County, Illinois
A 50-year-old woman with several pre-existing conditions, including diabetes, visited her referring doctor, who recommended she undergo an X-ray. The radiologist interpreted the results and did not identify a navicular fracture in her foot.
The patient continued using her foot while walking and standing, believing it was not broken. Eventually, she developed Charcot disease, a hereditary disorder that caused damage to the nerves of the legs and arms.
The Illinois woman filed a civil lawsuit against the radiologist and imaging company. Her malpractice claim alleged that the radiologist negligently misread her X-ray and CT scan results, which led to her fracture, pain, and amputation.
The jury awarded the woman over $1 million for her damages.
$20,000 in Medical Fees
The defendants blamed her primary care physicians, who did not take responsibility for their errors. The imaging company and radiologist also replied that these issues resulted from her underlying conditions and had nothing to do with their services.
The defendants chose not to settle with the plaintiff and took their case to trial. A jury determined that the defendants violated the standard of care when they negligently misread her X-rays, which caused her not to receive proper treatment. The jury awarded over $1 million to the plaintiff.
$428,000 Verdict; Misread X-Ray Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
Before sending the man home, a doctor performed medical care and placed the patient's hand in a splint. Unfortunately, a radiologist had misread a set of x-rays ordered by the victim's physician.
Later tests confirmed that the victim had broken his hand. The delayed diagnosis meant that surgery could not reunite the bone.
Also, there was a deformity near the base of the hand and a collapsed space between the fingers, which was not promptly treated. Eventually, the victim developed arthritis and will need rehab and surgery due to the substandard treatment.
Claims the Mistakes Led to Injuries
The man's attorney sued the doctors and radiologists involved in these events based on radiology malpractice and negligence. The plaintiff's lawyer claimed that the defendant's healthcare negligence caused his client's injuries, disability, and costs because the professional radiologist failed to properly interpret the X-rays.
The defendants replied that they rendered adequate service but that the victim's problems pre-existed in these circumstances.
The defendants stated that they believed the arthritis was a pre-existing condition before providing care to the plaintiff. This fact-intensive matter was presented to a judge and jury.
The jurors found for the plaintiff and awarded a $428,000 verdict for loss of normal life ($200,000), pain ($175,000), medical expenses ($15,000), lost wages ($13,000), and disfigurement ($25,000), resolving the radiology malpractice claim.
$1,500,000 Settlement; Misread Ultrasound Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
A Chicago-area female patient in her mid-40s had undergone a knee replacement on her left leg. A few months after that operation, the woman began feeling pain in the leg.
Technicians performed an ultrasound. However, the results did not identify her compartment syndrome condition. The missed diagnosis and a failure to treat the victim promptly led to a foot drop in her left leg.
The condition developed even though she had already undergone a thigh fasciotomy. The surgeons cut the compartment open to allow the muscle to swell, restore blood flow, and decrease pressure.
The plaintiff's condition generated almost $250,000 in medical costs. After these developments, her healthcare malpractice lawyer filed a civil lawsuit against her medical providers.
She lost almost $100,000 in time away from work and still had her left leg's pain, discomfort, and disability. The medical team could not provide a sound defense and chose not to take the case to trial. Instead, all parties agreed to settle the case for a reported $1.5 million to resolve the healthcare negligence claim.
$425,000 Settlement; Misread Ultrasound Malpractice; Winnebago County, Illinois
The doctor misread a thirty-six-year-old woman's ultrasound results. The emergency physician incorrectly diagnosed that the woman had a tumor that would stop her from getting pregnant.
Without recognizing radiology errors, the doctor began a corrective surgical procedure. He noticed a previously undiagnosed condition during the surgery, adenomyosis, an inflammatory endometrium condition where tissue grows within the uterine wall. The condition does not prevent pregnancy.
The physician's unnecessary operation scarred and damaged the woman's uterine lining. This devastating medical mistake prevented her from carrying a child, forcing her to use a surrogate. The healthcare malpractice victim sued the defendant physician and the treatment center, alleging their medical treatment did not comply with the standard of care recognized throughout Illinois.
In a privately negotiated case settlement, she and her husband received $425,000 in compensation for her preventable medical condition. About $120,000 of the compensation was paid for her medical bills, and about $60,000 was for the surrogacy costs.
Filing Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
The first step is determining if you have a valid claim. To do this, you must establish that the medical professional in question fell below the acceptable standard of care and that this deviation from the norm resulted in your injury.
The next step is filing a lawsuit, which can be a complicated and lengthy process, so it's again essential to have experienced legal representation.
Your attorney will handle all aspects of the case, from gathering evidence to negotiating with the insurance company so that you can focus on your recovery.
Most radiology malpractice cases arise from errors made during the interpretation of imaging studies. The cases can be very complex and often hinge on the testimony of expert witnesses.
Radiology Malpractice Injury FAQs
Our law office recognizes that you likely have many questions about how to proceed with a case involving a radiology mistake that caused harm to you or a loved one.
Our attorneys have answered some of the most pressing radiology malpractice questions below. However, contact us today at (888) 424-5757 if you need more answers on how to file and resolve your compensation claim.
Do Radiologists Get Sued for Medical Malpractice Frequently?
Radiologists face one of the highest rates of medical malpractice lawsuits compared to all other medical professionals. At least once during every radiologist's career, approximately one out of every three radiology professionals will be sued for healthcare malpractice by injured victims or surviving family members.
Filing a personal injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit requires filing all necessary paperwork before the state statute of limitations expires. A failure to file in time before the expiration of the statute of limitations usually results in a permanent ban from filing a malpractice claim in the future.
What Do Radiologists Get Sued for the Most?
Many lawyers for the plaintiffs base their radiology malpractice cases involving radiologists on the professional's failure to diagnose or a diagnostic error. A radiologist's failure to diagnose is involved in three of four medical malpractice lawsuits filed against radiologists.
A "radiologist's failure to diagnose" civil lawsuits involve errors with mammograms, X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. Some health malpractice claims involving radiologists are based on a radiologist failing to diagnose breast or lung cancer or brain damage.
What Are My Chances of Winning a Radiologist Malpractice Case?
A plaintiff filing a malpractice case against the defendant radiologist citing negligence has an exceptionally high rate of successfully resolving their lawsuit. Statistically, four out of five radiology malpractice cases are resolved through a negotiated settlement out of court.
Plaintiffs win jury awards in 50% of all cases. The remaining twenty percent of malpractice lawsuits are resolved in a court trial. The plaintiffs' success rate is significantly higher than most medical malpractice cases, where the doctors win 85% to 90% of those malpractice claims litigated before a judge and jury.
How Accurate is a Radiology Report?
Clinical Innovation and Technology recently published an article revealing information about statistics gathered by New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The report indicates that radiologists are 91% accurate when interpreting diagnostic images.
However, the remaining nine percent misinterpret a radiology report which can harm patients. The injured victims have the right to seek financial compensation against the medical professional in a radiology malpractice claim.
Can a Prudent Radiologist Misread a CT Scan?
Doctors order radiology imaging to help diagnose breast cancer or other medical conditions. X-rays, CT scans, and MRI technology can identify internal bleeding, fractures, cancer, and tumors. A chest x-ray may determine lung cancer or other severe respiratory conditions.
However, successfully identifying conditions and injuries requires a reasonable radiologist to read the CT scan correctly. Misreading the imaging could be considered radiological healthcare malpractice.
Radiological errors result from a lack of interpretive skills in a hospital emergency room, doctor's office, or urgent care center. Misinterpretation of X-rays is the most common form of radiology error made in the medical field.
Is a CT Scan Better with or without Contrast?
Sometimes, the doctor will order a CT scan using contrast media dye to help identify bones, organs, and tissue inside the body. The dye in the bloodstream helps clarify organs, tissue, veins, and arteries that may not be seen without the contrast media.
However, a CT scan can be performed without contrast media and might be diagnostically acceptable and healthier. The use of iodine-based contrast media may be dangerous for some patients.
Our Chicago Radiology Malpractice Attorneys Are Here for You
The award-winning Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyer, LLC, represent victims of healthcare malpractice across Illinois.
Your medical malpractice lawsuit, jury trial award, or negotiated settlement will more than pay for your medical treatment, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, rehabilitative therapy, long-term care, and pain and suffering.
Free Legal Consultations
Contact our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers now at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free) or through the contact form to arrange a free consultation with one of our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys. Our legal team accepts medical malpractice cases and wrongful death lawsuits.
Our lawyers work solely on a contingency basis, which means you are assured that you will never be required to remit payment until the case is successfully resolved. If we fail to secure compensation on your behalf, we will waive our fee for our services.
Let us file your personal injury compensation claim before the statute of limitations expires. All discussions you have with our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys will remain confidential as we create an attorney-client relationship.