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Can I Sue if My Doctor or Healthcare Provider Misread My X-Ray?

January 8, 2024

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X-rays help doctors and other healthcare providers diagnose illnesses, bone fractures, infection, fluid build-up, and other medical conditions. They provide extremely valuable visual information that can lead to effective treatments for patients.

However, X-rays can cause more harm than good when they aren’t interpreted correctly. X-rays are sometimes difficult to read, and knowing what they show requires years of education, training, and experience. Unfortunately, X-rays are sometimes misread, and that can result in patients receiving the wrong treatment or, in some cases, no treatment at all, leading to serious and even life-threatening consequences.

In this blog, we’ll provide more information about X-rays, including:

  • The diseases and injuries they can help diagnose
  • The ways they can be misread by doctors
  • The consequences of misreading them
  • What rights patients have when misread X-rays cause them to suffer injuries or illnesses

What Health Conditions Can Be Diagnosed with X-rays?

Bone Fractures and Injuries

  • Fractures: X-rays are commonly used to identify fractures, whether simple or complex, in bones throughout the body.
  • Dislocations: Dislocated joints or bones can be visualized through X-rays.

Dental Issues

  • Tooth Decay: Dental X-rays are used to detect cavities, decay, or problems with tooth roots.
  • Impacted Teeth: X-rays help identify impacted teeth or issues with wisdom teeth.

Lung and Chest Conditions

  • Pneumonia: X-rays are used to visualize lung infections such as pneumonia, showing areas of inflammation or fluid accumulation.
  • Tuberculosis: Changes in lung structure indicative of tuberculosis can be seen through chest X-rays.

Digestive Tract Issues

  • Swallowed Objects: X-rays help locate foreign objects swallowed accidentally.
  • Digestive Issues: X-rays with contrast materials can reveal abnormalities or blockages in the digestive tract.

Heart and Blood Vessel Problems

  • Enlarged Heart: X-rays may indicate an enlarged heart or abnormalities in the heart's shape.
  • Aneurysms: X-rays can help detect aneurysms or abnormalities in blood vessels.

Cancer and Tumor Growth

  • Tumors and Masses: X-rays can identify masses or tumors in various parts of the body.
  • Metastasis: X-rays may reveal spread (metastasis) of cancer to the bones.

How Can X-rays Be Misread by Doctors?

Doctors can misread X-rays through a variety of circumstances, including:

  • Human Error: Even skilled radiologists or physicians may misinterpret X-rays due to the complexity of the images.
  • Inadequate Training or Experience: Insufficient training or lack of experience can lead to misdiagnosis or misinterpretation.
  • Technical Issues: Poor image quality, obscured views, or technical glitches can hinder accurate readings.
  • Not Taking Enough Time: Doctors are often pressed for time, and they may make snap judgments about what they see on X-rays without taking the time to fully study them, especially if they have a large volume of cases to get through.

What Are the Consequences of Misread X-rays for Patients?

Misreading X-rays can have severe consequences for patients, leading to:

  • Delayed Treatment: Incorrect interpretation can delay proper treatment, exacerbating the condition and causing unnecessary pain or complications.
  • Misdiagnosis: Patients may receive incorrect diagnoses, leading to unnecessary medications, procedures, or surgeries, or overlooking critical health issues.
  • Worsening Health Conditions: Failure to identify fractures, tumors, or other abnormalities can result in the progression of diseases or injuries.
  • Emotional and Financial Toll: Patients endure emotional distress and increased financial burdens due to prolonged treatments or corrective measures for misdiagnosed conditions.

Patients who have suffered harm due to healthcare providers’ misinterpretation of their X-rays may wonder if they can pursue legal action. It’s important to speak to an experienced law firm right away to determine if any damages you suffered as a result of a misread X-ray could lead to a valid lawsuit against your doctor, healthcare provider, or healthcare facility.

When reviewing your case, your lawyer will look to establish these three factors:

  • Standard of Care Violation: To establish a case, it must be proven that your healthcare provider deviated from the standard of care expected in similar circumstances. If the misreading is due to negligence or a breach in the standard of care, you may be able to file a lawsuit.
  • Damages Caused by the Violation: Injured patients must demonstrate that the misread X-ray directly resulted in harm or exacerbated their condition and caused damages. Your lawyer can help you prove the connection between the misread X-ray and your damages.
  • Testimony of Expert Witnesses: Expert witnesses, typically other medical professionals, may provide testimony supporting the claim that the misinterpretation deviated from the standard of care. Your lawyer can call in these witnesses to help build your claim or to testify if your case goes to trial.

Our Ohio Medical Malpractice Lawyers Hold Healthcare Workers Accountable for Misread X-rays

Misreading X-rays can have extremely harmful effects on patients, leading to prolonged suffering and additional medical expenses. While not every error in medical judgment constitutes malpractice, patients have the right to seek legal advice if they believe they have been harmed due to a healthcare provider's negligence.

At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, our Cleveland medical malpractice attorneys know how important X-rays are to the diagnostic and treatment process of injuries and illnesses, and we also know how dangerous they can be when they are misread. If you believe your health worsened due to the consequences of a misread X-ray, we want to help. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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