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A failure to diagnose by a radiologist could be deadly

When Illinois residents go to the doctor, it is sometimes necessary for further tests to be done in order to determine what is wrong with them. If those tests are not performed properly, it could be disastrous for the patient. For example, a failure to diagnose by a radiologist could be deadly.

The identification of abnormalities in a radiological image could prove invaluable to a referring physician when making a diagnosis. Radiologists have been known to miss an abnormality entirely or misidentify one. This affects whether a patient receives the proper treatment or no treatment at all.

This can be particularly dangerous if it is later discovered that the patient has a serious illness, such as cancer. Many cancers have high survivability rates if caught early enough and treated appropriately, so a quick and accurate diagnosis is vital. Otherwise, a patient's condition can deteriorate quickly, along with his or her chance of survival.

However, improperly reading an image is only part of the problem. If a radiologist fails to properly communicate his or her findings to the referring physician, diagnosis can also be delayed. A case can be made that it is incumbent upon the radiologist to ensure that the other doctor has a clear understanding of what is found. Further, courts are now expecting radiologists to follow up with doctors weeks after the initial diagnosis to be sure that the information was given to the patient.

An Illinois resident's primary doctor is responsible for making sure the correct diagnosis is reached, but a failure to diagnose by a radiologist can easily prevent that from happening. Therefore, if a patient's condition was not properly diagnosed and the right treatment was not prescribed, it might not only be the fault of his or her doctor. In many medical malpractice cases, often more than one party could bear responsibility for any serious injuries or deaths that occur due to substandard care.

Source:, "Malpractice in Radiology", Liza Haar, April 11, 2016

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