Study Finds Correlation Between Medical Malpractice & Imaging Tests

Doctors will not always be 100% accurate when reaching a diagnosis, but they are expected to always use all available tools within reason to come to a conclusion. For example, medical imaging tests like x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and more are all useful ways to get a clearer idea of what is harming a patient. One of the most common forms of medical malpractice is the failure to accurately diagnose a patient’s issue, especially when medical imaging tests are not properly utilized or fully explored.

A recently concluded study from researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine underlined the importance of medical imaging tests to preserve a patient’s health and subsequently protect a medical professional’s or hospital group’s reputation and finances. In the study that used medical records of Medicare beneficiaries from 2004 to 2016, it was determined that an increase in medical imaging tests would predictably follow a successful medical malpractice claim payout in the region. On average, nearly 1,400 more imaging tests and advanced diagnostic techniques would be ordered within a year for every single medical malpractice claim that ended in the plaintiff’s favor. This information only correlates to medical practitioners participating in Medicare, so it is possible that the true correlative increase might be even higher when considering all cases of medical malpractice.

What Does the Correlation Mean?

A dramatic increase in advanced imaging tests after a medical group loses a medical malpractice lawsuit is actually quite telling of the typical behaviors of medical malpractice defendants and their insurers. It explains that these medical groups clearly understand the importance of accurate diagnoses and the usefulness of specialized diagnostic tools. However, they only feel like spending the extra money on these tests is necessary after feeling the added pressure of a recently lost medical malpractice lawsuit.

Tests & Plaintiff Victories are Declining

Despite this correlation between a spike in imaging tests and plaintiff-favoring medical malpractice claims, the same study also found that Medicare patients across the country were undergoing less and less specialized imaging diagnostics per year. Across the 13-year study period, the total number of such examinations dropped by more than 30%, which saved medical groups and insurers nearly 47% when factoring costs associated with such tests. Also, medical malpractice claim successes among the same group and in the same period were reduced by more than 45% and paid almost 40% less per victory.

South Dakota, North Dakota, and Vermont were the top three states that became the least favorable for plaintiffs in the course of the study. Reportedly, South Dakota experienced a staggering 91% decrease in paid medical malpractice claims during that time.

This bit of information is also telling. It suggests that medical groups and insurance companies have made great strides in the last decade or so to make it more difficult for plaintiffs to win a fair payout in a medical malpractice claim. Anyone who has been hurt due to a doctor’s mistakes, especially when a failure to diagnose is at play, would be prudent to work with a medical malpractice attorney if they want to confidently build a case to bring to a settlement negotiation or litigation.

You can learn more about this study by clicking here and viewing a full article from Healio. If you need a medical malpractice attorney after a doctor failed to diagnose your illness or injury in Philadelphia, choose the experienced team of Golomb & Honik, P.C. You can call (215) 278-4449 to request a free consultation to learn more about your options and our services.

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