Failed patient communication leads to lawsuit against radiology practice

A New York radiology practice faces a $2.1 judgment after a jury determined that it failed to properly communicate the findings of a spinal lesion on a CT scan, leading to the permanent loss of sensation in the patient's legs. The jury dismissed claims against three other defendants in the case.

The jury determined that Radiologic Associates, P.C., of Middleton, N.Y., in 2008 failed to communicate findings of a lesion of the spine of Mark Boyer, 56, of Kingston, N.Y., causing a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of the lesion and causing a severe compression of Boyer's spinal cord.

"Essentially the jury found that as a result of the radiology group's malpractice, Mark will have to live the remainder of his life with a severe disability that has left him permanently disabled and in constant pain," attorney Daniel Santola, who represented Boyer, said in an announcement.

Santola said that the jury ordered the radiology group to pay Boyer $600,000 for past pain and suffering; $900,000 for future pain and suffering; $120,000 for past lost wages; $450,000 for future lost wages; and $5,000 for the out of pocket medical expenses that had not been paid by his health insurance carrier. Boyer, who is a custom cabinet maker by trade, can't stand or walk for any length of time, and is unable to life heavy materials and operate machinery.

The incident highlights the importance of communication between radiologists and patients. Failed communication lawsuits are not rare, according to Chicago-based radiologist Leonard Berlin. In a 2010 article published in the journal Applied Radiology, Berlin said that while the most common cause of medical malpractice litigation in the U.S. is a failure to diagnose, data from medical malpractice insurance companies shows that the second most common cause is the failure to communicate the results of radiologic examinations.

To learn more:
- see the lawsuit announcement
- read the article in Applied Radiology

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