How Radiology Errors Occur
When radiology errors occur, they may not be caused by a failure of just one part of the imaging procedure. Instead, these errors could result from a variety of issues, including:
- Misread scans, images or X-rays
- Errors in filing the imaging test results properly to guarantee they remain associated with the right patient
- Miscommunication between several pathologists, lab technicians, and radiologists
What You Should Consider
Diagnostic error rates are now thought to be as high as 30 %. Having another look at your diagnostic study should be mandatory, especially with serious medical problems facing the patient. Many times there are discrepancies that can easily be resolved such as motion artifact, meaning that the patient moved during an MRI study and that made it difficult for the reading radiologist to interpret the study. That motion artifact can be resolved by having the test run again, and the patient not moving.
But there are also more serious problems when a radiologist may not be trained to recognize a serious issue because they do not have all of the training and advanced training needed to diagnose the condition. That is why it is always recommended that a patient ask to see the radiologist’s background, including all advanced Fellowship sub-specialty training.
There are many times where a general radiologist has enough information to make a proper diagnosis, but it is in the case of highly technical scans that the need for a neuro-radiologist or a musculoskeletal (MSK) radiologist, or a body radiologist, or an advanced radiologist with a specialty in cardiology, is necessary.
Second Reading Offers Transparency
There is also ample evidence that double reading a study improves accuracy. In the case of radiology, the concept of double reading can be very effective in having another radiologist read a study for a second time, offering a 2nd look or 2nd opinion. Double reading is one of the best ways to safeguard the quality of service to have a significant impact on the maintenance of quality.
It is the job of the radiologist to read the study and issue a report correctly. No one is infallible, and mistakes can and will be made, especially in an area of medicine (radiology) that is so dependent on personal medical interpretation. Errors due to wrong interpretation can lead to the wrong diagnosis.
The image or the x-ray that was taken is vital to the patient and the radiologist. This is considered raw data and data is to be analyzed effectively so the expert in the field of radiology must have enough learning or skills in the field and have sharp reasoning skills to be able to produce the proper diagnosis.
Things to Consider
A radiologist is usually highly trained. Always check to see what medical school and what advanced work the radiologist has in their background. Have they earned honors and graduated in the top 10% of their class?
In the United States, medical professionals are held in very high regard if they are members of AOA (Alpha Omega Alpha) a highly skilled group of medical professionals who have graduated in the top 10% of their medical school. If a radiologist is trained in various subspecialties such as Breast, Brain, Body, MSK, Cardiology, there is a chance for a better outcome in reading an MRI, CT, PET, Nuclear Medicine, Ultra Sound, or an XRAY.
You do want to improve your odds of a misread of up to 30% by utilizing a highly skilled second opinion for any significant and life changing imaging study.