How the adherence to the standard of care by two radiologists led to different legal outcomes in a missed cancer diagnosis.
Canadian Lawyer Magazine published an article covering a medical malpractice case in Ontario that has shed light on the importance of radiologists’ work and the consequences of missed diagnoses. The case involved two radiologists who were sued for failing to detect a patient’s lung cancer, with one radiologist being found liable while the other was not. The difference in outcomes highlights the critical role of radiologists in diagnosing cancer and the need for them to meet the standard of care to ensure that patients receive timely and accurate diagnoses.
The case involved a woman who had a chest X-ray in 2013 that showed a suspicious mass in her lung. The radiologist who interpreted the X-ray did not report the mass to the patient’s family doctor. Two years later, the woman had another chest X-ray, which showed that the mass had grown. A different radiologist interpreted the second X-ray and identified the mass as cancerous. Unfortunately, the cancer had already spread to the woman’s brain, and she died a few months later.
The woman’s family sued both radiologists for medical malpractice, alleging that they had failed to detect the cancer in a timely manner. The case went to trial, and the court found one radiologist liable for the missed diagnosis, while the other was not.
The court’s decision hinged on the standard of care that each radiologist should have met. The first radiologist was found liable because the court determined that he had not met the standard of care expected of a reasonable radiologist. Specifically, the court found that the radiologist should have reported the suspicious mass to the patient’s family doctor, which would have led to further investigation and a diagnosis of cancer at an earlier stage. The court concluded that the radiologist’s failure to report the mass was a breach of his duty to the patient.
In contrast, the second radiologist was found not liable because the court determined that he had met the standard of care expected of a reasonable radiologist. The court found that the second radiologist had properly interpreted the X-ray and identified the mass as cancerous. The court concluded that the second radiologist had not breached his duty to the patient.
In this case, the first radiologist’s failure to report the suspicious mass fell below the standard of care, while the second radiologist met the standard of care by properly identifying the mass as cancerous. The outcome of the case highlights the critical role of radiologists in diagnosing cancer and the need for them to meet the standard of care to ensure that patients receive timely and accurate diagnoses.
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From Canadian Lawyer Magazine