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Radiologists often sued for failing to diagnose breast cancer

For a growing number of women across the U.S., a diagnosis of breast cancer is a reality which they must face. As is the case with most types of cancer, early diagnosis is critical in providing for the best possible outcome. When a doctor fails to diagnose a woman as having breast cancer, permanent injury or even death may result.

A recently published study shows that radiologists are most likely to face medical malpractice lawsuits for failing to diagnose breast cancer. For the study, researchers examined nearly 5,000 medical malpractice claims that were filed against roughly 2,600 radiologists.

By analyzing the details of these med mal cases, researchers found that radiologists were most likely to be sued for failing to diagnose that a woman had breast cancer. Many of the women who sued subsequently discovered they had breast cancer and were forced to rely upon more invasive forms of treatment due to the advancement of the disease.

One of the study's authors, however, contends that much of the fault in misdiagnosis of breast cancer stemmed from the use of older mammography equipment which made it more difficult to detect abnormalities. A point he asserts is further supported by the fact that the majority of lawsuits against radiologists stem from misdiagnosis errors rather than communication errors as is typically the case in most medical malpractice lawsuits.

The study's findings are significant in helping health care professionals as a whole, and radiologists specifically, develop better diagnostic methods. Ohio patients who have suffered harm as a direct result of a doctor's failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis may choose to take legal action.

Source: DotMed, "Radiologists see most malpractice suits for mammography," Loren Bonner, Feb. 6, 2013

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