While failure to diagnose breast cancer appears to be the most common medical malpractice lawsuit against radiologists, there is a silver lining that surrounds this new study’s report. That silver lining is that while mammography produces risks for some radiologists, the technology is getting better and one theory as to why the increase in lawsuits in that area occurred in the first place is that the test and technique itself contributed to the failure to diagnose.
Most of the misdiagnosed cases were due to a failure to detect a lesion from the scans. With no detected lesion, radiologists were often failing to schedule or recommend follow up testing and appointments. However, as the author of the study points out, mammography presents its own limitations, especially when the breasts are dense. These limitations lead to blame for failure to diagnose correctly when the consequences and risks are so high and patients are looking for reassurance and certainty in their diagnoses.
These are also good things to keep in mind if you are the patient. Ask questions, make sure you understand the explanations and treatment regimen. You need to be your own advocate while at the doctor’s office. However, if you need someone to advocate for you outside of the doctor’s office due to a failure to diagnose or some other form of medical malpractice, please reach out to an attorney. A knowledgeable medical negligence attorney can help you navigate the complex legal options that may be available to you and your situation.
Source: DotMed, “Radiologists see most malpractice suits for mammography,” Loren Bonner, Feb. 6, 2013