Radiologists overestimate their overall risk of malpractice lawsuits in breast imaging

Feb 02, 2009

Radiologists who work in breast imaging tend to overestimate their actual risk of medical malpractice lawsuits, according to a study performed at the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine in Seattle, WA.

The study included two separate surveys, one in 2002 and one in 2006 that asked radiologists in diverse regions of the US two questions: Have you ever had a previous malpractice claim related to mammography? And what do you think is your future probability of being sued in the next five years? Results showed that "the radiologist's median estimate for the likelihood of being sued was four times higher than their actual risk," said Joann G. Elmore, MD, lead author of the study. In 2002, a radiologist's perceived risk of being sued in the next five years was 41% and in 2006 was 35%. The actual percentage of radiologists who reported malpractice claims five years prior to 2002 was 8% and the actual percentage of radiologists who reported malpractice claims five years prior to the 2006 survey was 10%. "Their perception of risk is much higher than the reported reality," she said.

"Failure to detect breast cancer has been the leading cause of medical malpractice lawsuits. Malpractice litigation has a direct effect on healthcare delivery in the US and ultimately may influence the way we practice medicine," said Dr. Elmore. "Under such circumstances, doctors are turning to defensive medicine, where we order more tests to make certain we aren't missing something," she said.

Workforce shortages in breast imaging may also be considered the result of a physician's perceived risk of malpractice lawsuits. "We have seen fewer residents interested in going into breast imaging, partially because of their perceived risk of being sued," said Dr. Elmore.

This study appears in the February issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Source: American Roentgen Ray Society

Explore further: Pentagon: Anthrax shipments broader than first thought

Related Stories

NSA winds down once-secret phone-records collection program

8 hours ago

The National Security Agency has begun winding down its collection and storage of American phone records after the Senate failed to agree on a path forward to change or extend the once-secret program ahead of its expiration ...

Pipeline that leaked wasn't equipped with auto shut-off

8 hours ago

The pipeline that leaked thousands of gallons of oil on the California coast was the only pipe of its kind in the county not required to have an automatic shut-off valve because of a court fight nearly three ...

Uber drivers fined in Hungary

9 hours ago

The Hungarian tax authority fined Uber drivers in its first probe against the ride-sharing service which the economy ministry said Saturday "ignores passenger safety" and must be made to follow regulations.

Recommended for you

Pentagon: Anthrax shipments broader than first thought

9 hours ago

The Pentagon said Friday that the Army's mistaken shipments of live anthrax to research laboratories were more widespread than it initially reported, prompting the Defense Department's second-ranking official ...

Anthrax shipments came from military site in Utah desert

May 29, 2015

The U.S. Army's mistaken shipment of live anthrax samples to government and commercial laboratories occurred at a military post in a desolate stretch of the Utah desert that has been testing chemical weapons ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.