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Failure to Diagnose and Communicate in Radiology


[VIDEO] Leonard Berlin, MD, talks malpractice at ACR 2016.

The most common cause of malpractice litigation in radiology historically has been failure to diagnose, or errors, Leonard Berlin, MD, of the Radiology Department at Skokie Hospital, said at ACR 2016.

Even today, failure to diagnose is still the number one cause of malpractice in radiology. Missed or delayed diagnosis of breast cancer is the leading diagnosis failure, Berlin said, followed by lung cancer and fractures.

Slowly creeping up, however, is failure to communicate, Berlin added. Radiology reports not making it to referring physicians or making it to referring physicians and not patients is the culprit behind failure to communicate, which essentially, can be filed under delayed diagnosis, Berlin said. The increase in failure to communicate is rooted in the volume of work radiologists are responsible for today.

The ACR parameters on communication are the most controversial, Berlin said. Significant, unexpected findings are where the malpractice suits tend to lurk. Berlin cited an ACR study that showed 28% of radiologists call the referring physician for significant, unexpected findings.

“That’s the problem,” he said. “That’s where the law suits occur.”

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