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Are You Next? Why Radiologists Are Getting Sued

 The hard truth is most physicians will face a lawsuit at least once in their career. In comparison with other specialties, radiologists rank in the middle in terms of their work being vulnerable to error. According to recent Medscape poll, 84 percent of radiologists 54-years-old and younger who responded had been involved in at least one malpractice lawsuit, that figure was even higher for radiologists over 60 — at 90 percent. No doubt the chances of being implicated in a lawsuit increase with age. As one physician surveyed put it, “The older you get, the more you have to lose”

According to the poll, male radiologists are more prone to law suits than female radiologists. Medscape determined that 76 percent of male radiologists were sued at least once, in comparison with 55 percent of female radiologists. Of those surveyed, 69 percent of men and 47 percent of women were included alongside other physicians in malpractice suits.

So what’s the reasoning behind these lawsuits? The vast majority (67 percent) of respondents said they were sued for “failure to diagnose”. Fifteen percent were implicated for “abnormal injury” and six percent for failure to treat a condition. Those who were sued for failure to diagnose reported that in most cases, they were being sued in conjunction with other professionals. At other times, failure to diagnose was concerned with conditions deemed difficult to diagnose.

"I think many physicians take the lawsuit…process much too personally,” said one radiologist respondent. “The legal system is a machine [that] can sometimes benefit injured patients. I think that most malpractice [litigation] comes from angry patients and family who are disappointed. Good communication can minimize this." 

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