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What Could Happen When You Don’t Carefully Read a Radiology Report

lawsuit involving a 49-year-old male with colon cancer has demonstrated the need for physicians to thoroughly read radiology reports and for radiologists to effectively relay image interpretations.

The patient had undergone a CT scan for pre-procedure workup for his extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy to remove kidney stones. The scan showed a possible indication of colon cancer, and the radiologist had made note of those findings on the second page of the report that was sent to the urologist that same day. However, the urologist neglected to read the second page, and 19 months later, the patient was diagnosed with late Stage IIIB or Stage IV and had a zero percent chance of living five more years.

The urologist, radiologist, and hospital were all charged in the patient’s suit. When the radiologist sent the report to the urologist, he tried calling him to relay the results but the urologist didn’t pick up. Instead, he left a brief message that didn’t include any critical details about the scan. The urologist testified saying that he read the first page but didn’t realize that there was a second page.

The patient’s oncologist argued that if he had received a timely diagnosis for his cancer, then he would have had a 50 to 80 percent chance of a five-year survival. The patient’s case was settled before it went to trial for $4,500,000, $2,300,00 of which came from the defendant urologist and $2,200,000 from the radiologist and hospital.

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