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Radiologists Have The Second Highest Rates of Misdiagnosis

Cancer is the most frequently misdiagnosed condition in imaging tests, with breast, lung, pancreatic, and ovarian cancer the most commonly misinterpreted cancers, according to a recent report from Coverys, a New Jersey-based medical insurance provider.

“Errors in radiology are unfortunately common and can have a severe and potentially life-threatening effect on those patients who are impacted by mistakes like a missed, delayed, or incorrect diagnosis,” said the report’s author and vice president of business analytics, Robert Hanscom.

Coverys looked at over 10,600 closed liability claims between 2013 and 2017 to identify the major risks and warning signals that can lead to misdiagnosis in radiology. They found that 595 of these claims referenced a radiologist as being involved in patient harm or delayed or incorrect diagnosis. Overall, radiologists are connected to 15 percent of diagnosis-related claims, the second highest number of claims of any specialist after general medicine providers. Out of these diagnosis claims, 80 percent correspond to misinterpreted clinical tests. The most common outcome of these documented misdiagnoses was death.

The report encourages facility administrators to implement systems and strategies for preventing misdiagnosis, including an increased use of electronic health records (EHR). Through using EHR, they recommend tracking results so that they’re delivered to the correct ordering physicians.

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