Radiology Malpractice Attorneys in New Jersey
When physicians believe that medical imaging will help with the treatment of a patient, they order tests, and a radiologist gets the results. Radiologists are medical doctors trained to interpret the results of X-rays, CT scans, and other images. They cooperate with other doctors to diagnose patients.
Due to the increasing involvement of clinical management of the patient, the role of a radiologist continues to evolve. Radiologists are often charged with new duties and liabilities, exposing them to higher risks of legal claims against them. If you or someone you know has a legal claim against a radiologist, contact our New Jersey radiology malpractice attorneys today.
Radiologists are responsible for two primary functions: diagnostic radiology and interventional radiology.
What Is Diagnostic Radiology?
Diagnostic radiology encompasses any medical imaging method that assists doctors in identifying illnesses, injuries, or diseases. Such methods include:
- CT scans,
- PET imaging,
- Mammography, and
- Nuclear medicine.
Misinterpreting these tests puts patients at risk of having serious medical complications and the radiologist at risk of a lawsuit.
What Is Interventional Radiology?
Interventional radiology is an advancing medical practice in which radiologists perform targeted, minimally invasive treatments that use imaging guidance. Interventional radiology examples include:
- Arterial or venous blockages,
- Cancer treatment,
- Liver and kidney conditions, and
- Uterine fibroids.
Interventional radiology is often preferred because it’s not as invasive as surgery, costs less, has shorter recovery times, less pain, and less risk to patients.
What Constitutes Radiology Malpractice?
Legal liability for radiology errors and malpractice is founded on the tort principle of negligence. In general, negligence can be justified when all the following issues exist:
- The physician was duty-bound to take care.
- The physician was in breach of that duty.
- The patient was injured as a direct result, and
- There was a causal relationship between the injury and the alleged breach of care.
An example of malpractice in radiology might include:
- Misinterpretation of radiology imaging reports,
- Misdiagnosis of test results,
- Improper testing procedures,
- Incorrect evaluation of test results,
- Unread medical imaging reports, or
- Failure to communicate the radiology results to the patient’s doctor or failure to refer the patient to a specialist in time.
A radiologist should be competent enough to diagnose and treat the conditions they are licensed to treat. When they fail to fulfill this duty and a patient suffers harm as a result, there is likely malpractice afoot.
What Constitutes Severe Harm?
For a successful medical malpractice lawsuit against a radiologist, you must prove that their actions led to injuries, such as:
- Loss of enjoyment of life,
- Physical pain,
- Mental pain and suffering,
- Loss of earnings, or
All of these examples can help a lawyer prove damages for radiology malpractice. Lawyers can also help you gather the evidence needed to maximize your recovery if you suffered injuries due to radiology malpractice.
Common Examples of Radiology Malpractice
Common radiology malpractice lawsuits involve misdiagnosed illnesses, complications from interventional procedures, misinterpreted reports, and poor physician-patient relationships. These errors may stem from a radiologist not having the right competencies in their daily practice, unsafe habits, and improper techniques.
Error in Diagnosis
Recent nationwide research on malpractice suits showed that the most common cause of medical malpractice suits against radiologists was an error in diagnosis (mainly failure to diagnose). Failing to diagnose a condition hinders patient treatment. Without a diagnosis, the patient’s medical condition can worsen, spread, or even result in death.
According to that same study, an error in diagnosis related to breast and skeletal radiology seems to be the most prevalent basis for a radiologic malpractice lawsuit. In particular, imaging findings related to the breast were the most common cause of organ-related misdiagnosis subject to malpractice suits.
Failing to diagnose cancer, in general, is a huge part of medical malpractice and the exact type of case the attorneys at O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, LLC handle.
Complications from Interventional Procedures
Interventional procedures help treat various conditions in the body by inserting small tools, such as catheters or wires, from outside the body. X-ray and imaging techniques such as CT and ultrasound help guide the radiologist. Complications of interventional procedures may relate to the procedures themselves, devices used to conduct the procedure, or implanted devices.
Following diagnostic failures, complications from an interventional procedure are the most common basis for a malpractice lawsuit. Leading causes of malpractice claims in interventional procedures often involve bleeding complications due to a ruptured blood vessel or organ during a routine biopsy.
Deficient Radiologic Reports
A radiologist’s ability to interpret radiologic examinations is both an art and a science. Accurate interpretation is only part of their skill. They must also communicate their readings in a well-written radiologic report. The radiologist will then interpret those results and send them to the doctor to discuss with the patient.
Unfortunately, a deficient report may result in legal action against the radiologist. Errors in radiology reports may result from inappropriate terminology, transcription mistakes, or poorly documented communication.
Poor Patient Communication
Recent radiology malpractice cases highlight the consequences of poor patient communication and lack of appropriate follow-up. In one case, a Pennsylvania St. Luke’s University Health Network patient arrived at the emergency department with abdominal pain. The patient was diagnosed with kidney stones. On top of that, a radiologist’s report noted a potentially suspicious bladder image. However, none of the physicians involved in the case communicated the radiologic findings to the patient, nor did they inform him of the need for further evaluation. Later, the patient was diagnosed with multiple malignant bladder tumors.
The suspicious image of the bladder was an incidental finding that went nowhere because the patient was never informed. In this case, the radiologist was not at fault because he reported the tumor on his report. However, this still constitutes malpractice in radiology as the incidental findings were ignored by the hospital physicians, who should have communicated the abnormality to the patient and made follow-up recommendations.
New Jersey Radiology Malpractice Lawyers Who Can Help
At O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, we are radiology malpractice attorneys who have received the largest medical malpractice verdict in New Jersey—a $28 million settlement. We are tireless advocates for patients and their families. Contact us for a free consultation online or by phone at 908-928-9200.
CT scan failed to identify a liver mass, detecting only cirrhosis of the liver. A year later, the plaintiff had metastatic liver cancer that had spread to his heart.
Discuss Your Case with Our Radiology Malpractice Attorneys Today
If you feel your doctor acted negligently resulting in harm to you or your child it is imperative that you seek counsel. We don’t expect you to come to us knowing all the answers—that’s our job. Many of our cases have yielded more than $5 million for our clients. This money is necessary to support a lifetime of medical care. We will fight on your behalf to provide you with excellent representation. Damages awarded to the victim of a medical malpractice case vary, but our attorneys will always strive to seek the maximum allowable. After a thorough review of your case, together, we will determine the most appropriate course of action. Contact us online or call at 1-908-251-9368 or 1-800-586-5817.