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Can You Sue a Radiologist for Misdiagnosis in Pennsylvania?

Radiologists play a critical role in diagnosing and treating medical conditions. Using imaging technologies such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography scans (CT), a radiologist provides vital information to a medical team or treating physician. When a radiologist makes an error that negatively impacts the health of a patient, they can be held legally responsible for the harm they caused. The Reiff Law Firm has decades of experience handling complex medical malpractice claims. Below, our Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney discusses filing a lawsuit against a negligent radiologist.

What Does a Radiologist Do in a Pennsylvania Hospital?

In some cases, it is easy to think of a radiologist as a consultant, using their tools and skills to render and interpret images that assist doctors in diagnosing and treating illness and disease. They will examine imagines that are ordered by a treating physician and offer their expert opinion after interpreting the results. Medical mistakes occur when an image is interrupted, or an abnormality is missed.

Radiologists are also skilled in the use of radiation as a medical treatment. Most people are familiar with the use of radiation treatments to treat some forms of cancer.

Like other medical professionals, a radiologist has a legal duty to provide an accepted standard of care for their patients. When they deviate from this duty, and a patient suffers a severe medical complication or death, they could be guilty of medical malpractice. Our Philadelphia failure to diagnose attorney will thoroughly review a radiologist’s conduct to determine if their actions constituted negligence.

Suing a Radiologist for Diagnostic Mistakes in Pennsylvania

One of the most common mistakes made by radiologists that result in medical malpractice lawsuits is the misdiagnosis of cancers. When a radiologist mistakes a cancerous tumor on the breast as benign or fails to notice a small growth on a lung, the consequences could be devastating for the patient. Many times, life-saving treatments are not prescribed in time. Because of the catastrophic impacts of misdiagnosing cancer, these types of errors often result in the highest awards. Our Pennsylvania failure to diagnose attorneys have decades of handling complicated misdiagnosis lawsuits.

However, every mistake is not medical malpractice. While the type of error is critical in a lawsuit, our Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney is concerned about whether the patient was harmed because the radiologist violated their duty of care. Even if the result is horrible, if a reasonable radiologist would have made the same mistaken diagnosis, then it is unlikely that the error constitutes negligence.

Misdiagnosis Caused by Miscommunication Between a Radiologist and a Physician in Pennsylvania

It is not uncommon for a radiologist to issue two separate reports, a preliminary report that addresses the request a treating physician made and a later, more comprehensive, report that details their findings of the entire image. In some cases, a doctor might not read the full report and rely entirely on the initial results. If a small abnormality is only mentioned in the full report, a cancerous tumor could be easily missed. This type of miscommunication between the doctor and the radiologist could result in medical malpractice.

If a patient is harmed, for example, failing to detect cancer, because of this miscommunication, our Philadelphia misdiagnosed cancer lawyer will try to establish that each medical professional’s shared liability. While the responsibility could be shared between the doctor and radiologist, a radiologist does have an obligation to ensure the treating physician is aware of any significant abnormality. Errors in communications often result in adverse medical complications or misdiagnoses.

Radiologists’ Medical Mistakes in Pennsylvania Emergency Rooms

Emergency rooms can be hectic, and the pace is usually much faster than a typical hospital setting. Because of the number of patients to diagnose, a radiologist might not have the time to review an X-ray or CT scan as they usually would. That does mean they can neglect their duties or feel free to cut corners. If a radiologist misses an abnormality on an X-ray or fails to inform the treating doctor, they could be held liable for any medical complications the patient suffers. Our office will investigate every step that resulted in a misdiagnosis when being treated in an emergency

The Duty of Care for Radiologists in Pennsylvania

How does our Pennsylvania personal injury attorney determine the duty of care? Unfortunately, there is not a set of regulations or rules that define a radiologist’s legal obligations towards their patients. Every lawsuit is different, and the circumstances that give rise to it are unique. Proving that a radiologist violated their duty of care typically requires an expert witness detailing what should have occurred.

A radiologist is usually tasked with a specific order from a treating physician. For example, a patient might be experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, so a doctor requests an MRI to determine if there was any significant damage to the heart. While scanning the heart for signs of cardiac arrest, a small mark on the patient’s lung is revealed. If the radiologist fails to note this mark in their report, a treating physician might miss an important piece of life-saving information.

Whether or not a radiologist is charged with a specific objective, they are still legally and ethically required to review the entire image. A radiologist must consider the whole image and examine it for any significant abnormality. Failing to do so could constitute medical malpractice if something critical was missed.

Call Our Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Free Consultation

If you suffered a severe medical complication or if a loved one died because a radiologist misdiagnosed a medical condition, contact our Philadelphia personal injury attorney immediately. Radiologists should be held as accountable as your doctor if they make a costly and preventable mistake. Call the Reiff Law Firm to schedule a free consultation (215) 709-6940.

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