Coverys, the provider of liability insurance for medical practitioners, has released a report that may be of interest to New York residents. After studying over 10,000 radiology-related medical liability claims filed between 2013 and 2017, researchers found that the misinterpretation of clinical tests was behind 80 percent of all diagnosis-related claims.
Moreover, 80 percent of missed-diagnosis claims ended in permanent injury or death. 15 percent of diagnosis-related claims involved allegations against radiologists, though more claims pointed to negligence on the part of general medicine providers. Among misdiagnosis claims, cancer was the most frequently missed condition, especially breast, lung, pancreatic and ovarian cancer.
Radiology and pathology professionals have a critical role in ensuring an accurate diagnosis, but the unfortunate thing is that they are not always included as part of the diagnostic team. In the effort to reverse the misdiagnosis trend, researchers at Coverys recommend the standardization of treatment protocols, the use of decision support films and the development of reporting templates.
Imaging reports should be separate from incidental findings, researchers further suggest, and formal quality improvement methods should be implemented. Clear language should be used to avoid misunderstandings. Coverys recommends an overall assessment of any gaps found in clinical care and education to reduce risks and improve patient outcomes.
Those who suffer because of a failed or delayed diagnosis can consult with a lawyer who deals in medical malpractice claims. For a claim to be valid, it must be shown that there was an existing doctor-patient relationship and that the doctor failed to live up to an objective standard of care. Victims must also show how their reported injuries are related to the mistake, but a lawyer could hire third-party medical experts for this. Legal counsel could also handle all settlement negotiations.