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Reckless reading malpractice lawsuits on the rise

Thousands of Oregonians, have X-rays or other tests, such as CT scans or MRIs, at some point in their lives. The individual usually must wait for the results to become available. Often, the X-ray or scan is seen by a radiologist, it is not uncommon for tests to be sent out for review, so that the radiologist assigned to a specific case might be in another state or country.  

There has been an increase in medical malpractice claims referred to as “reckless reading” lawsuits. The plaintiffs in such cases claim that not taking an adequate amount of time to read X-ray or other test results constitutes medical negligence. One case involved a man who suffered a subdural hematoma that was not diagnosed, even after the man had undergone a CT scan of his head and cervical spine. The man’s attorney argued in court that the radiologist who reviewed the scans was lax, apparently viewing each image for less than one second.  

Are radiologists understaffed and overworked?  

Some people have suggested that regulating workloads would help radiologists have more time to spend reviewing each image they are given to assess. Reportedly, radiologists often have hundreds of images to review in a typical work day and also field as many as 70 phone calls during the normal course of a work shift. Some medical data analysts suggest that viewing an image for one second or less is the currently accepted standard; they say a radiologist adhering to accepted industry norms should not be found to be negligent if a diagnosis is missed.  

Missed diagnoses cause severe injuries and sometimes death 

It is not an Oregon patient’s responsibility to know who should be doing what on the medical side of things. A patient relies on a medical team to comply with applicable laws and perform their duties in accordance with accepted safety standards. Lives may be at risk or even lost because of substandard medical care, which is why the state allows recovering victims or immediate family members of a fatally injured victim to pursue restitution by filing a medical malpractice claim in a civil court.