Misinterpreted CT scans leading cause of malpractice

By AuntMinnie.com staff writers

December 4, 2019 -- Misinterpreting CT scans is the leading cause of patient injury malpractice cases involving radiologists, according to a new study by the Doctors Company.

The physician-owned medical malpractice insurer analyzed closed malpractice claims against radiologists. Experts reviewed claims and conducted medical record reviews to gain an accurate and unbiased understanding of what led to patient injuries.

The researchers found 78% of cases were due to misinterpretation, primarily an undiagnosed malignancy. CT scans accounted for 34% of the misinterpretation cases.

Poor communication between physicians accounted for another 18% of malpractice cases.

The Doctors Company report also focused on interventional radiologists. In those malpractice cases, a complaint about technical performance occurred in 76% of claims -- most involving patients who suffered poor outcomes after invasive procedures. In most of those cases (65%), the correct procedure was performed appropriately, even when the patient suffered an undesirable outcome. Only 11% of claims were because of poor technique or incorrect body site.

"These findings indicate the importance of communication between the interventional radiologist and the patient prior to the surgery or procedure," said Darrell Ranum, study author and vice president of patient safety and risk management with the Doctors Company. "It is critical for the radiologist to clearly explain the potential for injury during the informed consent process and verify that the patient understands the risks."

Read the full study.

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