There has been significant research conducted regarding the rate of diagnostic radiology errors. It is estimated that radiologists experience a 3-5% error rate annually, and these cases result in 75% of the medical malpractice cases filed.
The numbers are staggering
While 3-5% may not seem like a huge number, it means that an estimated 40 million diagnostic errors occur globally every year. These errors are attributed to many factors, not only internal and cognitive errors but also external and technology errors.
A pathway for improvement
Researchers are looking for ways to improve the conditions that radiologists work under, such as being subject to time pressure and using outdated equipment, to find a way to help mitigate those external factors that cause diagnostic errors. While processes and capital investments can improve these external factors, no clear pathway for improving the human and cognitive errors seems to exist.
There are several factors that include cognitive errors in diagnostic radiology. These include:
• State of mind
• Cognitive bias
Causes of diagnostic errors in radiology
Experts point to increasing workloads and time pressure as the major factors in diagnostic errors. There may be questions regarding a human’s visual acuity as well. One study conducted in 2015 found that many radiologists were expected to interpret one image every three to four seconds just to keep up with their workload. That is very serious time pressure to make a critical decision.
This increasing workload is being driven, in part, by the advances in technology and the accessibility to health care. More patients are undergoing diagnostic radiology as part of the regular health care routine.
What to do if you suspect an incorrect diagnosis
If you suspect you have been the victim of an incorrect radiological diagnosis, a medical malpractice suit might be appropriate. These cases are often emotionally charged and should be handled by attorneys who have experience dealing with the physical and emotional trauma caused by an incorrect diagnosis.