A Pennsylvania medical malpractice jury returned its verdict on April 28, 2016 in the amount of nearly $6 million in favor of a woman who underwent unnecessary abdominal surgery after a radiologist read another patient’s CT scan images as the woman’s scan, thereby resulting in the misdiagnosis of her condition.
The Pennsylvania medical malpractice jury found the defendant hospital, which had settled the claims against it before trial, 80% responsible, and the defendant radiology practice 20% responsible.
The woman was 31-years-old in December 2009 when she went to the defendant hospital’s emergency room complaining of abdominal pain. The emergency room physician ordered a CT scan of the woman’s abdomen, which was completed several hours later. The radiologist employed by the defendant radiology practice read what he thought was the woman’s CT scan images but were actually the CT scan images of a different patient. As a result, the radiologist diagnosed the woman as having a bowel perforation.
The plaintiff’s Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the radiologist was medically negligent by failing to recognize that the woman’s previous CT scan in 2007 showed that she had her gallbladder removed (the 2009 CT scan showed an intact gallbladder). Additionally, the woman’s medical record stated that she had prior gallbladder removal surgery.
As a result of the radiologist’s negligence, the woman underwent exploratory abdominal surgery that involved her entire abdominal cavity. The surgeon was unable to find the alleged perforation and thereafter discussed his findings with the radiology department.
The Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawsuit further alleged that the woman’s CT scan was placed in the hospital’s medical information system the same evening that she went to the emergency department but that her CT scan was intentionally deleted from the system the following morning, after radiologists compared the scans and realized that the prior CT scan in 2007 had shown that the woman’s gallbladder was nonexistent.
The radiology mistake was not discovered by others until one year later, when the woman went to the emergency room complaining of post-operative pain. A different radiologist reviewed the woman’s CT scans from 2007 and 2009 and discovered the discrepancy, which he reported and which resulted in an investigation.
The woman’s Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that as a result of her unnecessary surgery (the defendants denied that her exploratory laparotomy was unnecessary), she developed pain around her incision when she moves due to a nerve becoming entrapped during the surgical procedure. When the pain began affecting her work and her activities of daily living, she had to have a nerve stimulator implanted in her abdomen. Nonetheless, she was determined to be totally disabled in 2012.
The defendant radiology practice alleged, “It is extremely rare for CT scan images to be mislabeled with incorrect patient information, and it is not the standard of care for a radiologist to ascertain if the images he/she is interpreting are actually those of the person whose name accompanies the film.”
If you or a family member may have suffered serious injury (or worse) due to a radiologist misreading a CT scan, an MRI, an x-ray, or another radiology test in Pennsylvania or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state who may investigate your radiology malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice claim against a radiologist, if appropriate.
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