A radiologist is a medical professional who is trained to read, analyze, and interpret medical images derived through x-rays, MRIs, and other imaging devices. Most people do not realize how critical the skills of a radiologist are until they are injured or become ill and must rely, at least in part, on the expertise of the radiologist to correctly record, read, and help diagnose the problem that needs to be treated through images. Although the majority of these medical professionals are skilled and perform their jobs with the utmost care, when a radiologist does make a mistake, it can lead to serious, and even life-threatening, consequences.
As with all other medical malpractice cases, there is a specific standard that applies to establishing the case of negligence against the radiologist.
In order for the patient to prevail in proving that the radiologist was negligent, it is necessary to show the following:
- The radiologist owed a duty of care to the patient – This often is established through the existence of a professional relationship where the radiologist was compensated for providing professional services to a treating physician or facility where the patient was seeking care;
- The radiologist breached the duty that was owed to the patient – As discussed below, this duty is based on a specific standard that applies to the unique circumstances surrounding the radiologist;
- The breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of the injuries that the patient suffered – In essence, there must not be any intervening factors that led to the harm that the patient suffered; and
- The patient must have suffered harm – This means that there must be some measurable degree of damages relating to physical, emotional, or mental harm. If there is no measurable harm, it is not possible to hold the radiologist accountable for the error in a malpractice action, not matter how egregious the error.
In order to establish the requisite standard of care to which the radiologist was required to adhere, it is necessary to retain a qualified medical expert. Typically, this is a professional in the same field as the defendant, specifically a radiologist, who has attained the expertise and qualifications necessary to offer an opinion about what should have been done through extensive practice and study. In most states, the expert must continue to practice, rather than earn a living through being a professional witness, and there are requirements for how much of the expert’s professional time may be allocated to acting as an expert in malpractice cases.
In addition to establishing the standard of care, which is what a reasonable and competent radiologist with the same education, training, and experience would have done under the same circumstance, the expert also testifies about the nature of the breach. In order to prove that there was a breach of duty of care that led to harm, which forms the foundation of a negligence case, it is necessary to show how the behavior of the defendant deviated from the established standard. The degree to which the defendant’s behavior diverges from the standard is indicative of the severity of the breach of duty.
Radiologists are physicians who may be responsible for reading the images in x-rays, MRIs, CT-scans, and mammograms to determine illness or injury in a patient. For many lawsuits that are brought against radiologists, it is due to a mistake in recognizing clear indicators of a disease or other serious medical problem that should have been detected through the review of the image. Most radiologists are skilled at detecting the clues in the images that indicate there is an issue, but when they make mistakes, they can alter the course of people’s lives, and even cause preventable deaths. In addition, a radiologist may make a communication error.
One of the unique aspects of a case involving a radiologist is that under most circumstances, the radiologist does not communicate directly with the patient. While this does not lessen the degree of negligence, it does make many of these cases a little more complex. There may be a question of whether or not the radiologist communicated a problem or potential health issue to a treating physician. Due to this complication, there often are multiple defendants in a malpractice case involving a radiologist, including the treating physician. If a person has been harmed, or who has had a loved one suffer, as the result of potential malpractice, it is critical to consult with a skilled malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
Stern Law, PLLC Fights for Victims of Medical Malpractice
Radiologists may not speak directly with patients seeking medical help that require the analysis of images, but they can make mistakes that devastate the lives of the patients and their loved ones. At Stern Law, PLLC, our attorney has spent more than 30 years advocating for the rights and interests of those who have been harmed because a medical professional made a preventable mistake. We also offer information and resources to those who may have been the victims of medical malpractice. We have knowledgeable and compassionate staff members available 24 hours per day, seven days per week, to answer questions. Call us at 1-844-808-7529 or fill out an online contact form in order to learn how we can help you get through this difficult time.