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Radiologists face highest rate of malpractice claims for breast cancer

Radiologists provide critical diagnostic testing analysis to patients all across the United States. When their analysis is unfounded, under-examined or otherwise negligent, potentially deadly consequences can result. There are many reasons why one might have cause to sue a radiologist who has deviated from required standards of patient care. However, a new study indicates that patients most frequently file medical malpractice claims against radiologists due to delayed breast cancer diagnosis issues.

When women go in for routine or diagnostic mammograms and other related testing, they trust that the expert reading their scans will approach that task with the urgency and reflection that it warrants. However, too many radiologists miss or ignore critical warning signs that point to breast cancer.

True, no diagnostic testing method is perfect. However, standards of care and practice do dictate the ways in which radiologists must approach the breast cancer screening process. When radiologists deviate from this professional expectation, women can be sent home without a proper diagnosis. In too many cases, breast cancer that is present continues to spread and grow absent intervention and proper treatment.

Last month's issue of Radiology features the study linking radiologists to a high rate of missed diagnosis claims. Nearly a third of radiologists in the U.S. face a minimum of one medical malpractice claim during the span of their careers. As a result of this startling statistic, patients should be more vigilant than ever about securing a second opinion if their tests are analyzed as negative but they believe something about their health to be truly concerning.

Source: Oncology Nurse Advisor, "Breast cancer diagnostic errors major cause of malpractice suits," Feb. 4, 2013

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