People in Washington State who have a CAT scan, MRI, mammogram or other diagnostic test have a right to know that their test data and results are being appropriately reviewed and responded to. Unfortunately, the results of a report that was recently released suggests that this may not be the case all of the time.
The report was issued by Coverys, an insurance company, and was based on medical malpractice claim data from 2013 through 2017. The findings brought to light serious problems with results from radiology testings. While errors involving general practitioners topped the list of the problems in the study claims, errors involving radiologists were second on the list, accounting for 15 percent of the errors.
The mistakes involving radiologists commonly included the lack of follow up to test results that were abnormal. When it came to cancer diagnoses, it was lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer and ovarian cancer diagnoses that were most often the subject of the errors. In eight out of 10 cases, the errors led to either permanent injuries or, even worse, death.
In an effort to prevent future problems, the report recommends that providers avoid the use of obscure language like “cannot rule out” or other phrases that are not clear enough. It also suggests that the reliance on memory should be curbed and instead better documentation such as detailed checklists be developed and used. Second reading of test films was another recommendation that may help to improve the accuracy of test results so that patients can receive timely and useful information about their health.