Methods for lowering the risk for radiology errors

According to research from Johns Hopkins University, every year in Washington and across the US, medical errors contribute to over 250,000 deaths — in other words, about 10% of all the deaths in the nation. Many of these medical errors are related to radiology. While only 3% to 5% of standard radiology exams result in mistakes, the rate of error is much higher with CT scans and MRIs. False-positive readings can be involved in 30% of diagnoses.

The American Journal of Roentgenology has outlined best practices for reducing radiology errors, and the following are just a few of them. First, medical centers could institute a peer-review process among radiologists. There are software solutions available to assist with this. The next step is to prevent burnout through shorter work shifts, structured break time and double reads. 

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Structured reporting can also be beneficial in that it improves communication between radiologists and physicians and acts as a checklist for radiologists, thus preventing them from relying too much on memory. Consistent and timely follow-ups are another essential aspect.

Another step is to deploy decision support systems that are backed by advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Last but not least is education, which can help radiologists balance analytical and intuitive thinking as well as minimize errors due to cognitive biases.

Medical errors can arise from negligence, and when they do, the victims of the mistake may be able to file a claim under medical malpractice law. Legal assistance may be required, though, to file one since the process can be complicated. A lawyer may start by requesting an inquiry with the local medical board and hiring third parties for an independent investigation. Medical experts may determine the extent of the harm so that the attorney may negotiate for a fair settlement.