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Diagnostic errors in radiology and their causes

On Behalf of | Sep 15, 2020 | Hospital Negligence

Of all the malpractice claims filed against radiologists in New Jersey and across the U.S., 75% involve a diagnostic error. With the error rate ranging from 3% to 5%, some 40 million diagnostic errors are being committed globally every year, so it’s important for anyone going to see a radiologist to know what can cause these errors.


Cognitive bias a major cause


One cause is the cognitive bias that can skew the way radiologists analyze and interpret a given image. Though plenty of studies have looked into this matter, it’s a bias that everyone holds unconsciously. Certain moods will make the bias even more prominent, as can fatigue, illness and the impatience that radiologists may feel when faced with an image to interpret every three or four seconds.


From this bias can stem the fundamental attribution error, where one judges another’s actions based on that person’s character and less on the situational context. There’s also the self-serving bias, where one takes the credit for positive outcomes and blames outside factors whenever things go wrong.


Some of the system-related factors


System-related errors include technical failures, equipment failures, miscommunication and some flaw in the teamwork or the policies that govern the relationship between the radiologist and other professionals. These, naturally, take their toll on radiologists and can cause fatigue and irritation, all of which influence their analyses.


What the victims of a misdiagnosis can do


A missed or delayed diagnosis in the area of radiology can lead to serious, even fatal, injuries for victims. If you have suffered harm and believe the doctor was clearly at fault, then you may want to speak with a lawyer about pursuing a medical malpractice case. The lawyer may hire investigators to look into the matter and, then, proceed to negotiations for a reasonable out-of-court settlement.

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