Breast cancer misdiagnosis leading cause for radiologist's malpractice suits

A study has found that the most frequent reason radiologists are sued is that they have made an error when diagnosing a patient with breast cancer. The study published in the journal Radiology in February reported that breast cancer and non-vertebral and spinal fractures were the most common misdiagnosis that resulted in medical malpractice lawsuits.

There are many types of medical malpractice that can happen during a treatment for a disease or other medical condition. A doctor may diagnose the wrong disease, order the wrong treatment, therapy or drug. A doctor, nurse or other staff member may misread a chart or gave a patient the wrong amount of the right drug.

Breast cancer is the most second most common cancer afflicting women, after skin cancer, and kills more women than any other form of the disease except lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2013, "about 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women. About 64,640 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer). About 39,620 women will die from breast cancer."

Doctors understand early detection is essential and can save lives. The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the broader the range of treatments and the greater the likelihood of stopping the cancer while it is still in the CIS stage.

The study found the leading cause of malpractice suits against radiologists was errors of interpretation, not miscommunication. To paraphrase Shakespeare, the fault, dear radiologist, is not in their stars, but in their inability to properly diagnosis the breast cancer.

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