To Properly Interpret X-Rays
is not uncommon for x-rays, Cat scans and MRI's to be misinterpreted.
Often this occurs in the emergency room setting. One of the
primary reasons for this problem stems from the policy adopted
by most hospitals.
This policy allows the treating emergency room physician
to order x-rays or other diagnostic studies which are performed
and then interpreted by him. The patient is allowed to be
discharged (if the films are interpreted as negative). Later
that day or the next day, a radiologist will then reinterpret
those x-rays. This is called overreading the x-rays.
If the radiologist disagrees with the interpretation of the
emergency room physician, then the patient is supposed to
be notified and told to come back to the hospital. The problem
is that by that time, the hospital may not be able to find
the patient, or the problem has substantially worsened.
Another common mistake made in interpreting diagnostic films
like x-rays occurs when an x-ray is taken of a particular
body part for a specific reason. This x-ray may also happen
to show other body parts which were not part of the physician's
concern. When the film is reviewed for the particular reason
it was ordered, attention is not paid to the other body parts
which happen to be part of the x-ray.
If the original part looks o.k., but the other part is problematic,
the physician may miss it because he was not focusing on that
part, but rather on the part he reviewed carefully. The standard
of care requires that all structures or body parts which can
be seen on the x-ray should be considered by the physician
interpreting the film.
These cases are difficult for defense lawyers to defend because
the film shows what is missed. Often, the defense stems around
the argument that the treating physician was not told by the
radiologist about the interpretation of the film. Then, the
case becomes a swearing match between the treating physician
and the radiologist.
Another potential mistake involving x-rays involves performing
needle guided biopsies. These biopsies are usually performed
in conjunction with a Cat Scan to make sure the needle goes
into the suspicious mass. If the needle is not properly placed
in the mass, the biopsy can render a false negative when in
fact cancer is present.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a misread
diagnostic film, call Phillips & Mitchell toll free at
1-866-599-0022 and let one of our radiologist physician experts
review the film.
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