Radiological Misdiagnosis

Common Radiological Mistakes Resulting in Misdiagnoses

Radiology procedures include x-rays, mammograms, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and computed tomography (CT or CAT) scans. Each type of scan is used to diagnose certain types of illnesses and injuries, and each has its own set of standards and procedures. Radiological mistakes can occur prior to, during and after the performance of these scans, and include:

  • Failure to order scans that are necessary for an accurate diagnosis
  • Failure to properly prep the patient for a scan
  • Failure to accurately read scan images
  • Failure to communicate scan results among hospital staff and physicians

These and other radiological mistakes can lead to misdiagnoses of medical conditions including:

  • Bone fractures
  • Pneumonia
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Vascular disease
  • Breast, lung and other types of cancer

While many radiology misdiagnosis cases involve errors relating to the reason for a scan being requested (i.e. failing to locate a fracture when a patient complains of sharp pain, tenderness and limited mobility), it is possible for errors to lead to unrelated diagnostic errors as well. For example, if an x-ray performed to examine a broken bone reveals a tumor, failure to relay the patient’s condition to an appropriate specialist can support a medical malpractice claim as well.

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