Who failed to spot your cancer?

Think about any sports team. There are usually a couple of star players who take the credit when things go well and the blame when they don’t. The performance of others gets less attention.

Hospitals are similar. The doctors are the stars of the show. They are the ones you will credit with catching your cancer while it can still be treated. Or the ones you will blame if the opportunity was missed. Yet, as with any team, a doctor does not work alone. Radiologists play a significant role in assessing whether a patient has cancer, and sometimes they get it wrong. There are various reasons for their errors:

  • In 70% of cases, they fail to see the abnormality on the scan.
  • In 30% of cases, they see it but fail to recognize the significance, so do not report it or highlight it sufficiently.

Other studies have shown that radiologists sometimes spot one abnormality in a scan. Feeling satisfied that they have done their job, they fail to look and spot other more serious ones. Alternatively, they can pay too much attention to previous opinions and fail to challenge those of the last medical professional.

Whatever the reason for an error, it is of little consolation if a radiologist failed to spot signs of cancer that if identified and treated, could have saved you or a loved one. One survey found that 75% of radiologists were sued for medical malpractice at least once in their career. Not all diagnosis errors warrant a medical malpractice claim, but some certainly do. Seek help to understand if you have a chance of making a successful claim.