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Misread X-Rays, CTs, and MRIs

Syracuse Lawyers for Medical Imaging Malpractice

When diagnosing a patient’s injury or disease, or following up on a diagnosis, a doctor may order imaging along with other diagnostic tests. X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs are noninvasive tests that need to be read by radiologists, doctors trained in the interpretation of imaging. A radiologist who reads a patient’s imaging must summarize her findings in a report and send it to the doctor who ordered the imaging. Patients don’t often meet with radiologists, even though they are vital members of the medical care team. Because the treating physician will develop a treatment plan based on the radiologist’s interpretation, misreading or misinterpreting the image can result in a mistreatment or delayed diagnosis of the condition. If you were harmed by misread X-rays, CTs, and MRIs, you should discuss your situation with the experienced Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano.

Misread X-Rays, CTs, and MRIs

Medical imaging such as X-rays, CTs or MRIs are used to detect broken bones or fractures, tumors, foreign objects, and other abnormal conditions. A medical imaging technician will position the patient’s body and take an image of the nerves, muscles, bones, organs, cartilage or other structures using an X-ray, CT or MRI machine. A CT machine takes continuous pictures in a spiral or helical fashion, not a series of pictures of individual slices of the body. An X-ray machine works more like a camera, with the film revealing the areas of the body exposed to the X-ray, which can pass through any nonmetallic object to show images of tissue and organs.

If a radiologist makes a mistake in interpreting the images, a medical condition may worsen or be mistreated.


Different kinds of mistakes can occur in reading imaging. When looking at an X-ray, a doctor might miss signs of a bowel obstruction or cancer cells. In some cases, a doctor observes certain indications but draws the wrong conclusions. In order to hold a healthcare provider liable for misinterpreted tests, you must show: (1) a health care provider owed you a professional duty of care, (2) the provider breached the professional duty, (3) the breach caused harm, and (4) damages. The defendant, in other words, must have owed you a professional duty to read and interpret the X-ray, CT or MRI correctly.

In New York, the professional standard of care is determined by looking at what actions reasonably prudent health care providers in the same specialty and same geographic region would have taken under the same or similar circumstances. If your Syracuse radiologist misread your CT scan, the court would look at what a reasonably prudent radiologist in Syracuse would have done when faced with the same or similar CT scan.

Establishing a causal relationship between the misreading and the harm sustained is vital. Your lawyer will have to show that the misinterpreted imaging caused you harm that you wouldn’t have suffered without the misinterpretation. For instance, if your physician failed to treat your cancer because of a misreading of a CT scan and, as a result, your cancer progressed and spread such that it was untreatable, you may have a claim for medical malpractice.


If you can successfully show that a misinterpretation of your imaging constituted medical malpractice, you may be able to recover compensatory damages, which are intended to put you back into the position you would have been in had the imaging been read accurately. Compensatory damages can include economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages cover the cost of rehabilitation, medical treatment, medical equipment, prescription drugs, and lost income. Noneconomic losses address pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment and loss of consortium.

Sometimes a radiologist’s misreading combines with another doctor’s professional negligence. In New York, parties can be held jointly and severally liable for noneconomic losses. However, a defendant whose liability is 50% or less will only be severally liable for noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering.

Retain a Knowledgeable Syracuse Attorney

A radiologist’s accurate interpretation of imaging is a critical aspect of medical care. If you believe you were harmed by misread X-rays, CTs, and MRIs, you should talk to the experienced lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano about your potential claim. We represent patients in Rochester and Syracuse. We also represent patients in Upstate New York cities including Binghamton, Oswego, Lyons, Oneida, Auburn, Cooperstown, Watertown, Canandaigua, Wampsville, Ithaca, Utica, Herkimer, Elmira, and Lowville. Call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano at 833-200-2000 or via our online form.

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