Articles Posted in Radiology Malpractice

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A New York jury has awarded $11.6 million to a man who suffered a stroke that left him permanently disabled. The patient presented to the emergency room with dizziness, headaches and an inability to stand. He immediately came under the care of a Physician’s Assistant who ordered a CT scan of the brain. The case presented by the patient’s medical malpractice attorneys was that the CT scan was negligently reported by the radiologist as normal when it in fact showed that a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain was blocked. Because this serious abnormality was not reported to the physicians treating the patient, he was discharged home with the diagnosis of a sinus infection. He was not given blood-thinners which could have prevented a future and more damaging stroke. Weeks later, he suffered a second massive stroke that left him permanently disabled.

The testimony of expert witnesses in the fields of radiology, neurology, rehabilitative medicine and economics was presented to the jury, whose award included past, present and future pain and suffering damages of $8.5 million. The patient lost his successful business as the result of the malpractice.

Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys have successfully resolved a number of cases involving the negligent interpretation of radiological and other diagnostic studies. If you or a loved one think you were the victim of this or any other type of medical mistake, call us today for a free consultation at 410-385-2225.

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Radiology is an area of medical specialty that involves the evaluation and interpretation of images and films generated by tests such as X-Rays, CT Scans, MRIs, Mammograms, Sonograms and Ultrasounds. Radiologists, the individuals who are trained to read and interpret these images, are often the first line of defense for a hospital or emergency room physicians as the radiologist can often see what the doctors treating the patient cannot: fractured vertebrae, broken bones, internal bleeding, aneurysms, pulmonary emboli and many other life threatening conditions. When a radiologist fails to properly read and interpret these kinds of studies, your health is at risk. For example, a radiologist may miss a fractured vertebrae in a patient’s neck or back on a CT scan or an MRI, a fracture that could, if the vertebrae becomes displaced toward the spinal cord, result in paralysis. Under different circumstances, a radiologist may miss an aneurysm or early stages of an aortic dissection (a tear in your main blood vessel coming out of your heart) that could rupture and cause you to die. When these kinds of errors happen, they may amount to medical malpractice. Although in most cases the radiologist does not communicate with the patient directly, the radiologist’s failure to properly read or interpret a study affects how emergency room physicians and other doctors care and treat their patients. Accordingly, if a radiologist misreads an image or film and mistakenly rules out the condition that you have, your doctors may fail to treat your for that condition.

Another common medical error that radiologists make is failing to timely read and interpret studies and/or failing to timely communicate those results to the physicians that have requested the studies. For example, all radiological studies that are requested while a patient is in the emergency room are ordered on a STAT (or immediate) basis. Most hospitals have policies and procedures that require radiologists who receive a STAT order for a radiological study to interpret those studies within a short period of time, typically a half hour to an hour, of the study being completed. These same hospitals also have policies and procedures that require the radiologists to communicate the results to the ordering doctor within a certain amount of time after the study is completed, typically 10-20 minutes.

Radiological studies are also commonly used to monitor patients with chronic conditions, like tumors, or diagnose patients with various forms of cancer. Not surprisingly, if these radiological studies are not read and interpreted properly, devastating consequences can occur. In some instances, radiologists simply fail to detect the presence of a tumor before it is too late to successfully treat a patient. In other instances, radiologists fail to detect that a known tumor has grown in size or has spread to other areas of the body.

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In May, following a one week medical malpractice trial in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, a jury returned a verdict of One Million Dollars in favor of the two sons of a woman who died as a result of an allergic reaction to dye used during a medical procedure. The plaintfffs alleged that the women had a history of severe allergies to bee stings and should not have had the dye. A copy of the article regarding the case can be found here.

Two years earlier, the woman had visited a cardiologist complaining of chest pain. Testing revealed a normal-sized heart and a normal functioning heart, but did indicate mild hardening of the heart tissue. Despite the hardening tissue, there was no significant narrowing of her vessels, a symptom which would indicate a likelihood of heart disease. The cardiologist recommended a cardiac catheterization anyway and the procedure ultimately led to this medical malpractice suit.

In their medical malpractice complaint, the sons alleged that, in light of their mother’s medical history, the cardiac catheterization procedure which uses contrast dye to evaluate heart functioning should have never been performed because prior testing indicated such a low likelihood of heart disease.

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A New York hospital has paid $2.9 million to settle the medical malpractice case of a 6-year-old boy who was killed after he was struck in the head by an oxygen tank during an MRI. The boy was lying in an MRI chamber when the machine’s magnet pulled in a metal tank that a hospital staffer had brought into the MRI’s magnetic field. This is one of a number of recent cases in which people have been severely injured or killed by metal objects that were left in an MRI room. Another report on this case can be found here. A report on these types of cases can be found here.

As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland medical malpractice lawyer, I have successfully handled a large number of medical malpractice cases involving the failure of radiology facilities to follow their own written policies, procedures or guidelines. Cases such as there, in which a doctor, hospital or medical facility fails to follow its own standards, are inexcusable. To see some of the cases I have handled, click here.

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An Indiana jury has issued a large verdict in a medical malpractice case last month, an unusual thing in a state where such judgments are rare. The jury awarded the woman $5 million after miscommunication about X-rays led her to lose a portion of her stomach. Due to caps on damages, the verdict will shrink to $1.25 million. Only about 1/3 or that state’s medical malpractice cases result in verdicts for plaintiffs .

Before they can sue, that state’s residents must bring their cases before a three-member medical review board, which can take a year or longer. Even if the board decides the case has merit, a trial can take years, and health-care providers are unlikely to settle because the state’s cap on damages protects them from the risk of massive judgments. A copy of the article regarding the case can be found here.

In medical malpractice cases in Baltimore and other counties in Maryland, we don’t have medical review boards. But we do have tort reform. Though there are many components, the main elements are the requirement of Certificates of Qualified Expert (also called a Certificate of Merit) and medical report before a case can make it to court, and a cap on pain, suffering and emotional distress. These two things have kept verdicts down in Maryland and, as a result, kept medical malpractice insurance premiums down for doctors and hospitals.

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An Indiana jury has awarded $5 million to a woman in a medical malpractice case that was caused by a misdiagnosis. The woman, then 18, arrived at the emergency room with a ruptured diaphragm after playing softball. But through several miscommunications about what was shown by x-rays, she was misdiagnosed with a urinary tract infection and muscle strain, and then sent home.

Her condition deteriorated, so she saw doctors several times over more than two weeks. Eventually, emergency surgery revealed the correct diagnosis and resulted in the removal of a third of her stomach. Even today, she must limit food intake to avoid vomiting. She has had six surgeries and expects further complications. The woman can no longer work due to fatigue from the malpractice. A copy of the article regarding the case can be found here.

I have successfully handled many medical malpractice cases in Baltimore and other counties in Maryland involving the failure to properly read, report and/or interpret a radiology film. These cases are tragic b/c the answer to the problem is right before the doctor’s eyes, but it doesn’t get properly reported.

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