There are numerous medical specialties in our country that–under ideal circumstances–all work together to keep you and your loved ones healthy and safe.
One of the most critical specialty areas of medicine is radiology. In some unfortunate circumstances, radiology is the focus of a medical malpractice suit.
Radiology malpractice lawsuits can involve local radiologists at your hospital and clinic, or remote radiologists who practice several states away when they interpret your imaging.
If you’ve been negatively affected by either of these types of radiology malpractice, the New Mexico medical malpractice lawyers at Poulos & Coates are here to help get you on the road to recovery.
What Is Radiology, and How Does it Compare to Teleradiology?
Radiology is a medical specialty in which images of the body’s organs are used to diagnose illness.
A radiologist is a medical doctor that has gone through extensive training (residency and often a fellowship) to interpret these medical images and accurately report their findings.
When such images are taken, a radiologist will study them, diagnose what these images show, and then share the results with the doctor that ordered the imaging.
Radiologists and radiology are crucial to nearly every area of medicine.
Teleradiology is a concept that has been around for several years.
Typically, hospitals have an in-house radiology department. However, it may come as a surprise to know that many hospitals do not have these departments.
Instead, they use “teleradiology”, a practice that involves remote reading and reporting of imaging. It is a way that hospitals can save money.
Teleradiology usually involves more steps to reach a conclusion than regular radiology:
- An x-ray or other type of medical imaging is taken at the hospital;
- These images are then electronically delivered to an off-site radiology group, often somewhere far away;
- A radiologist receives your images, interprets them, and gives a diagnosis;
- The radiologist documents their findings and sends a copy to your doctor; and
- Your doctor’s office or hospital prints the report and your images to add to your chart.
While this may sound simple, it is very easy for lines to get crossed and communications to go awry. This is why teleradiology is often at the center of medical malpractice cases.
Pro: It’s Cost Effective for Hospitals
While there could be various factors affecting a hospital’s decision not to have an in-house radiology department, the decision is usually money-related.
Radiology departments can be costly for a hospital, but radiologists are still vital, so the next best option is teleradiology.
Teleradiology is most often used by smaller hospitals with fewer resources than larger hospitals. Teleradiology fulfills the hospital’s need for radiologists while keeping costs low.
Con: It is Easy for Miscommunication to Occur
Because doctors are not discussing your medical images and findings face-to-face, miscommunication can happen.
Your doctor does not directly communicate with the radiologist they rely on and often doesn’t even know the radiologist.
Everything is also sent back and forth electronically, making it easy for an important patient fact to go unnoticed, or for some form of miscommunication to occur. Unfortunately, teleradiology can be very impersonal.
Pro: It Can Quickly and Efficiently Give You the Answers You Need
If teleradiology is used as it should be, it can be a great way to get you the answers you need as soon as possible.
The off-site radiologists are ready to receive incoming files and review images quickly to type up their report and send it off to your doctor.
If used correctly, teleradiology can be an excellent tool for hospitals and doctors.
Con: The Teleradiologist May Not Be Able to Communicate Their Findings as Promptly as They Should
Your doctor orders medical imaging for a reason—they feel they need to go the extra mile for your health. When a doctor orders imaging, they need expert radiology answers.
They don’t want to wait a long time to get these answers because your health and life can depend on them. If something serious is going on with your health, there’s often no better way to know than a timely, accurate report from a radiologist.
Time is true of the essence, and teleradiology can ironically slow down the process.
Your doctor is relying on a doctor far, far away with whom they have no direct relationship. If this radiologist fails to get your doctor their findings accurately and promptly, your health can suffer tremendously.
What Is the Most Common Teleradiology Malpractice Lawsuit?
Teleradiology lawsuits can arise for different reasons, but they are usually diagnosis-related.
Tests can be misinterpreted, leading to a misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose altogether. Whatever the cause, teleradiology malpractice cases nearly always involve a patient whose health is affected by errors in radiology.
Who Is Responsible for Radiology Malpractice in New Mexico?
While you may think a radiologist is always the sole responsible party in teleradiology lawsuits, this is not the case.
The at-fault party in a teleradiology malpractice claim depends on the details of the case, but it can sometimes involve more than one individual or entity.
They can include:
- The radiologist,
- The teleradiologist’s employer,
- The treating physician, or
- The hospital or medical center.
Your radiology malpractice attorney will thoroughly investigate your case to help determine who is liable. Finding the responsible party is a vital part of a medical malpractice claim.
A Radiology Malpractice Attorney Can Help
If you or a loved one has been negatively affected by either radiology or teleradiology, a New Mexico radiology malpractice attorney can help.
Your lawyer will conduct an investigation and handle your case from beginning to end, helping to ensure they protect your rights and fight for a fair recovery.
Poulos & Coates, LLP, has over 70 years of experience helping clients affected by medical malpractice. Our firm has three attorneys, one of who is a medical doctor, so you know you are genuinely in the best hands.
We are the only firm in New Mexico exclusively dedicated to medical malpractice, and we are passionate about every case.
Where You Can Find Our Las Cruces Office Location