Articles Posted in Radiology Errors

This case arises out of a medical malpractice lawsuit alleged to have been prompted by the negligence of a radiologist. Courtney Webster had a CT scan performed at CDI Indiana LLC‘s diagnostic imaging facility. The radiologist, an independent contractor hired by Medical Scanning Consultants, missed identifying and diagnosing the cancer, which then remained untreated for over a year before being diagnosed.

Webster and her husband, Brian Webster, sued CDI, which in turn insisted that the Websters could not hold it liable because CDI did not directly employ the radiologist who was at fault for not recognizing the cancer.

The district court rejected that argument and applied the law of apparent agency, which instructs that a medical provider is liable if a patient reasonably relied on its apparent authority over the wrongdoer.
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Melanie Smith, 40, was taken to a hospital suffering from a severe headache, slurred speech, dizziness, right-sided weakness, and vomiting. These were all apparent signs of a stroke.

Two hours after she arrived at the hospital, an emergency physician, Dr. Antonio Baca, examined her, prescribed migraine medication and ordered a CT scan. The scan was negative for hemorrhagic stroke.

However, Smith’s symptoms continued over the next few hours. Dr. Baca ordered an MRI and consulted with a neurologist. The MRI showed that Smith had suffered an ischemic stroke. She was then transferred to another hospital where she underwent a craniotomy. A craniotomy is the serious surgical procedure in which the skull is perforated. A bone flap is temporarily removed from the skull to allow access to the brain by the neurosurgeons. A craniotomy is usually completed so that neurosurgeons can remove a brain tumor or an abnormal brain tissue.
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Courtney Webster was diagnosed as having rectal cancer when she was 41 years old. Five years later, she underwent a CT scan at CDI Indiana Center for Diagnostic Imaging after she experienced constipation and noticed blood in her stools.

An independent contractor physician interpreted the CT test and did not mention an abnormal rectal mass. Eighteen months later, Webster underwent a colonoscopy, which showed rectal cancer. A follow-up CT scan showed a soft-tissue rectal mass and indications of metastasis. Webster, whose cancer is now Stage IV, will most likely die from the disease in the near term.

Webster and her husband sued the Center for Diagnostic Imaging, Inc. d/b/a CDI Indiana, LLC and CDI Indianapolis, alleging liability for the independent contractor’s choosing not to report the presence of a rectal mass on the first CT scan.
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Kara Nguyen experienced pain after undergoing a splenectomy, which is the surgical removal of the spleen. She was 23 years old at the time. Her surgeon, Dr. Jorge Leiva, ordered a CT scan. Dr. Andre Arash Lighvani, a radiologist, interpreted the scan as normal.

She was discharged from the hospital and followed up with Dr. Leiva. About a week later, she was readmitted to the hospital suffering from fever and abdominal pain.

After a second CT scan was completed, Dr. Leiva and another general surgeon, Dr. Ziad Amr, diagnosed a blood clot in her portal vein, which was allegedly apparent on both CT scans. Dr. Amr discharged her five days later without a treatment plan for the vein clot.
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William Mann had a history of smoking. He underwent a routine physical including a chest x-ray, which was interpreted as normal. However, three years later, he was diagnosed as having metastatic lung cancer.

In spite of chemotherapy, radiation and other cancer treatments, including a procedure to reinforce the bones in his back, he died 20 months after the diagnosis. He was 58 years old and was survived by his wife and four adult children at the time of his death.

The Mann family sued the United States alleging that the Veterans Administration (VA) radiologist chose not to identify a suspicious 1.5-centimeter density on the left lung visible on the chest x-ray done three years before Mann’s fatal diagnosis.
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Albert Ragin experienced unexplained weight loss and night sweating. At the time he was in his 80s. CT scans without contrast of his chest, abdomen, and pelvis revealed a left kidney cyst, but there were no other kidney abnormalities.

About a year later, in 2013, a renal artery Doppler test showed a possible aortic dissection. Ragin subsequently underwent several CT scans with contrast.

An employee of the defendant in this case, Advanced Radiology, interpreted the CT scans as showing no aortic dissection and no kidney abnormalities except for the several cysts in both kidneys.
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In the confidential reporting of this case, Mr. Doe, 58, developed shortness of breath. He was admitted to a local hospital where he underwent various tests to rule out pulmonary embolism.

The hospital staff interpreted a pulmonary angiogram suspicious for, but not diagnostic of, an embolism. Mr. Doe was prescribed Coumadin and injectable Lovenox. He was then discharged from the hospital.

The following day, Mr. Doe returned to the emergency room complaining of severe abdominal pain. A CT scan and ultrasound showed a rectus sheath hematoma with internal bleeding. A rectus sheath hematoma is described as an accumulation of blood in the outer lining or sheath of the rectus abdominis muscle. The condition causes abdominal pain with or without a mass. The collection of blood or the hematoma may be caused by either rupture of the epigastric artery or by a muscular tear.
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Sean Pedley was 43 when he developed a lump in his left thigh. An internist, Dr. Syed Danish, ordered an x-ray that did not signify or later lead to a diagnosis. Pedley’s mass grew and became painful over the next two years.

When a later biopsy of the mass was analyzed, it showed that it was synovial sarcoma, a soft-tissue cancer.

By the time the correct diagnosis was made, the soft-tissue cancer had metastasized to Pedley’s spine.
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Gerald Teeuwen, 77, developed a persistent cough. He went to an urgent care facility and later underwent a chest x-ray, which was interpreted as showing a density in his left lung. Teeuwen was referred to a pulmonologist, Dr. Peter Birk.

Dr. Birk ordered a second chest x-ray, which radiologist Dr. Jack Lowdon read as normal. Dr. Lowdon did not compare the two films, which had not been provided to him. The following year, Teeuwen was diagnosed as having Stage IV lung cancer with metastasis to his brain and bones. He was unable to tolerate his chemotherapy and brain radiotherapy treatments. Teeuwen died of lung cancer four months later. He was survived by his wife and two adult children.

Teeuwen’s wife, on behalf of his estate and family, sued Drs. Birk and Lowdon alleging their negligence in choosing not to timely diagnose lung cancer. The Teeuwen family alleged that both physicians should have reviewed the first chest x-ray and that Dr. Lowdon had misread the second study. If Teeuwen would have received an earlier diagnosis, the family and the estate argued, he would have had a chance for cure and survival.
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Gretchen Altemus, 68, struck her head in a fall. She went to the Indiana Regional Center emergency room where she underwent a CT scan. The radiologist working for Aris Teleradiology interpreted the test as being normal.

She was admitted to the hospital. Just three hours later, she became non-responsive. A second CT scan was done showing intracranial bleeding. Although she was transferred to another hospital, she died the next day of brain damage resulting from the intracranial bleeding. She is survived by her two adult children.

Altemus’s daughter, on behalf of her family and estate, sued Aris Teleradiology and the hospital claiming that they chose not to timely diagnose and treat the intracranial bleeding. Had the radiologist identified the small area of bleeding in the brain, the family alleged that she could have received lifesaving treatment and survived.
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