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How X-ray diagnosis errors happen

| Jun 18, 2021 | Medical Malpractice |

Patients in Illinois deserve attentive, competent medical care. Nonetheless, radiologists still misread X-rays sometimes, and the consequences can be dire. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to prevent every possible mistake every single time. Even experts will make a few mistakes throughout their careers, but that is no comfort to the victims of such errors.

Precursors to mistakes

Mistakes rarely happen in a vacuum; lifestyle or environmental factors can create a situation that’s conducive to errors. For example, many medical professionals work long hours and get little sleep. After a certain point, sleep deprivation can affect an individual’s cognition similarly to drunkenness. A busy environment might also prevent medical professionals from dedicating all their attention to a single patient’s X-rays.

Another important consideration is whether a radiologist even knows what they’re looking at. Though radiologists are experts, no single person knows everything. If X-rays include indications of a problem that goes beyond a particular radiologist’s sphere of knowledge, the radiologist might not notice or understand it. Medical professionals sometimes need to ask other, more specialized doctors to assess X-ray results, but that doesn’t always happen.

Error categories

Each error is different, but mistakes tend to fall into predictable categories. Sometimes, a doctor fails to notice a problem. They look carefully at the X-rays, but they don’t see the issue. Other times, a radiologist will notice some of the problems while failing to see other issues. Sometimes, the problem is systemic. Various processes don’t run as smoothly as they should, which leaves room for diagnostic errors.

Regardless of why an error occurs, mistakes can have devastating consequences. If you’ve suffered because a medical practitioner misread your X-ray results, you might benefit from contacting an attorney with experience in medical malpractice.