The science of radiology plays a critical role in many medical diagnoses. However, when an error creeps into the radiology process, the result is often a delayed diagnosis or worse, a missed diagnosis. In fact, failure to diagnose, or a wrong diagnosis is one of the most serious radiology errors. However, studies also show that failure to communicate is another of the major causes of wrong diagnoses in radiology.
Failure to communicate can include more than just the communication of radiology reports to the physician, but also failures that prevent information from being transmitted to the patient. It is important to maintain the right communication channels so that there is no impediment to the communication of these critical results. Unfortunately, all too often there are discrepancies in the channels that result in communication failures.
For instance, the contact information for the respective doctor may be incorrect, making it difficult to contact the doctor. The doctor may simply be unable or inaccessible, and unable to see the radiology results in time. That could mean a delayed diagnosis, and with every day that a diagnosis is delayed, the patient’s health could worsen. Radiologists may also contribute to these communication hurdles simply by failing to complete documentation in a systematic manner. In fact, one study found that radiology groups very often fail to meet basic results-reporting standards set by the Joint Commission.
All of this, however, does not mean that radiology errors are unavoidable. Avoiding discrepancies in communication is often simply a matter of ensuring that proper procedures are followed, so that such failures do not occur.
Checklists which have been found to be effective and efficient in helping reduce the number of errors in other areas of medicine can also be applied simply and efficiently in the field of radiology in an effort to reduce the risk of errors. For instance, the use of a surgical checklist allows surgeons to confirm that the surgery is being performed on the right part and on the right patient, and also to make sure that other critical elements of the surgery are in place, before the operation goes ahead. The use of checklists like these has helped significantly reduce the number of errors that occur in American operating rooms. A similar checklist can ensure that radiology reports are transmitted to relevant persons, including physicians and patients in time, and in a proper manner.
Automated reporting of radiology findings are another effective means to reduce communication errors and are currently in place at several medical centers. These systems allow critical information to be transmitted to the relevant health professionals, using messaging systems and even smartphone apps. The use of automated technology like this can help reduce the risk radiologist takes to make information smarter and efficiently, and to also reduce the risk of human errors creeping in.
Radiologists, like other types of medical professionals, can be held accountable when their negligence results in patient harm. The Indiana medical malpractice lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP represent persons who have suffered injuries as a result of medical negligence across the state of Indiana. Contact them today to see how they can help you.