Patients sometimes have to undergo certain imaging procedures such as x-rays, CTs, mammograms, brain scans, MRIs, and more. These diagnostic procedures help doctors and radiologists determine whether there is something abnormal in a person’s body. No one wants to hear they have abnormal imaging results. However, it’s important to be notified of abnormal results are discovered. The failure to communicate abnormal imaging results is one of the most common reasons for malpractice claims against physicians.
When a procedure returns abnormal results and patients are not informed, it puts them at a greater health risk. If they are unaware of the results, they may not understand that further procedures or treatment are needed. That could lead to worsening health conditions and could at times even be fatal for the patient.
What Are Abnormal Imaging Results?
There are many different types of imaging procedures that radiologists and other doctors use to diagnose diseases, conditions, and injuries. These include X-rays, ultrasounds, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scans, and more.
Once these imaging procedures are completed, radiologists are looking for abnormalities or something that is different from a normal result. Some abnormalities radiologists look for include:
- Suspicious findings on a mammogram
- Physical abnormalities in a fetus found on an ultrasound
- Tumors found in the lung after a CT scan
- Shadows or white haze in the lungs shown on a chest X-ray
- Bone fractures on x-rays
- Strokes of the brain on CT
Unfortunately, these are just a few abnormal imaging results found every day in Indiana. When radiologists and other physicians notice them, they must inform the patient. If they fail to do so, they could be putting the patient at serious risk.
Tragically, there is no law in Indiana requiring radiologists to notify patients of abnormal test results even though they are required to do so in other states. For example, the state of Pennsylvania mandates that patients be notified by the radiology imaging service of any abnormal imaging test result either in person at the time of the exam or by mail, email, fax or through a patient’s portal within 20 days of when the report was provided to the ordering physician.
The notice must include a statement that advises patients: “You are receiving this notice as a result of a determination by your diagnostic imaging service that further discussions of your test results are warranted and would be beneficial to you.”
Kelley J. Johnson strongly supports the enactment of a similar law by the Indiana Legislature to ensure that not one more Indiana patient is harmed because their abnormal test results were not communicated to them either by the ordering physician or the radiologist.
What to Do If You Were Not Notified About Abnormal Imaging Results
Due to the fact that doctors sometimes fail to communicate imaging results, it’s important that all patients become advocates for themselves.
Always follow up with your doctor after an imaging procedure to review your results. Sometimes, doctors don’t call the patients with the results, particularly if they disagree with the radiologist’s conclusions. In some cases, a doctor may receive the patient’s results and simply forget to call them and book a follow-up appointment. Other times the radiologist fails to communicate the results to the referring physician. This is a time to be proactive and schedule an appointment for yourself so your doctor can review the imaging results once again and tell you of any abnormalities.
If you feel as though there may be abnormalities you don’t understand, and your doctor is not informing you of any, you may want to get a second opinion. Another doctor can review your test results and determine whether there are any abnormalities. That can set your mind at ease, or help you get the treatment you need faster.
If you learn there were abnormalities found after an imaging procedure and you were not told, you should speak with an Indiana medical malpractice attorney.
When Do You Need a Medical Malpractice Attorney?
No matter the type of imaging procedure performed, patients must be told of an abnormal result. If patients are not told about these results in a timely manner, and they suffer harm as a result, it could form the basis of a medical malpractice lawsuit.
It’s important that patients understand, however, that simply not being told of the results does not in itself constitute medical malpractice. They must suffer significant harm, such as the growth of a cancerous tumor, as a result of not being informed about abnormalities.
For example, if a mammogram showed a tumor in the breast and the patient was not told, she may have to undergo invasive treatment in the future due to the advanced stage of the illness. This is unnecessary harm due to the doctor’s negligence and could form the basis of a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney
If a radiologist or other doctor has neglected to inform you of abnormal imaging results, and your condition or sickness has become worse, as a result, you may have a valid medical malpractice claim. These claims are some of the most difficult personal injury cases to pursue, however, and you need an experienced Avon medical malpractice attorney by your side.
At the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson, we are passionate about helping victims of medical malpractice claim any compensation they are entitled to receive. We understand that right now is an extremely difficult time, and we want to help make it a little easier. Contact us today to schedule your free evaluation so we can begin reviewing your case.