The diagnostic tools available in modern medicine save lives every day. But what happens if a negligent health care provider uses these tools incorrectly? A patient injured by a usually-harmless diagnostic test—or the misinterpreted results of that test—may be able to file a medical malpractice claim against the medical professional who acted wrongly.
Although an MRI might be considered scary or unpleasant by many, few people think this medical imaging procedure can cause patients serious harm. In the majority of cases, it shouldn’t. MRI technology is relatively safe and valuable for diagnosing a variety of conditions. Only when used inappropriately can it cause a patient to suffer adverse health effects.
There is legal action you can take if you were harmed by MRI malpractice or another form of medical negligence. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can inform you of the options you have for financial recovery. Depending on the circumstances of your medical malpractice case, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
To learn more, contact Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law for a free consultation to discuss your MRI malpractice case.
What’s Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and What Is It Used For?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans the body to produce clear images of organs and other internal structures. The technology uses magnets, radio waves, and a computer screen to display the images. One of the benefits of using an MRI machine to obtain images is its lack of hazardous chemicals or radiation, making it safer than something like an X-ray or CT scan. While these alternate imaging tests are harmful with repeated exposure, MRIs are safer for frequent use.
In some cases, a contrast dye is injected into the body to get a better view of blood vessels, abnormal tissue, and areas of inflammation. The use of contrast dye can be highly effective in helping doctors diagnose tumors, infections, and other health concerns.
Because it can take high-resolution images of most internal structures in the body, MRI helps physicians identify a wide range of illnesses and injuries.
Your medical provider may have ordered an MRI to help diagnose a condition such as:
- Spinal cord injury
- Brain aneurysm
- Liver disease
- Abnormal heart function
- Breast cancer
- Soft tissue injury
- Joint damage
- Crohn’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
What Are Examples of MRI Negligence?
With proper use on an appropriate patient, an MRI scan is a harmless procedure. There is little to no risk involved, and patients can generally be assured that the slight discomfort of laying inside a small, enclosed machine is outweighed by the diagnostic value.
However, in rare cases, a patient may suffer an injury due to one of two acts of MRI negligence:
- Misinterpreting test results
- Performing an MRI when it is not safe for the patient
Misreading MRI Results
The majority of MRI malpractice occurs because a doctor did not correctly interpret the MRI image. When this happens, the actual condition goes undetected—and thus untreated. It may be even worse if the physician mistakes the condition for a different illness altogether. If one condition is treated as another, the medications and medical interventions may actually cause the patient greater harm.
Types of medical malpractice that result from misinterpreted MRI results include:
- Missed diagnosis
- Delayed diagnosis
- Prescription medication errors
There is never justification for a trained medical professional to misinterpret the results of a medical imaging test. Physicians, nurses, medical technicians, and other health care providers undergo years of training in order to properly analyze the results of tests. Misread images most often happen due to inattention, carelessness, distraction, fatigue, or substance abuse. All of these reasons may be considered medical negligence if you were harmed as a result.
When an MRI Is Not Safe for a Patient
An MRI injury from the test itself is less common, but can still happen under certain circumstances. Because an MRI uses powerful magnets to obtain images, people with specific types of metal implants can suffer pain and serious injury inside an MRI machine.
Medical professionals have a duty to ensure that an MRI is completely safe for you before ordering a test. If a doctor fails to obtain or review your medical history, they violate this duty of care. If you have a condition that causes an MRI to pose a risk to your health, your treating physician needs to use an alternative method to diagnose your illness or injury, such as an X-ray, CT scan, blood test, or biopsy.
Patients for whom an MRI is not safe include those with metal objects like these in the body:
- Cochlear implants
- Metal joint prosthetics
- Artificial heart valves
- Some types of pacemakers
- Metal clips, coils, plates, or screws
- Drug pumps
- Programmable shunts
- Electronic or implanted stimulators
- Blood clot filters
- Bullets or shrapnel
- Some types of metal-containing tattoos
It doesn’t happen frequently, but some people have found they are allergic to the contrast dye used to enhance MRI images. If you begin to have any symptoms (or know that you have been allergic to the dye in the past), be sure to inform your medical provider right away. Symptoms can usually be managed immediately by the medical technician performing your MRI.
There are other factors that may make an MRI a poor choice for a patient. Be sure to discuss your options thoroughly with your physician if you are:
- Claustrophobic (intensely afraid of small spaces)
- Have a health condition that makes lying on your back for extended periods of time difficult or impossible
- Have a kidney disease which may prevent your body from properly processing contrast dye
- Use a glucose monitor, insulin pump, or medication patch
- Wearing a body piercing or metal dental implant that cannot be removed
What Should You Do After MRI Medical Malpractice?
A misread MRI or other type of MRI medical malpractice can cause serious and lasting injuries. If you were the victim of MRI negligence, a medical malpractice lawsuit can help you recover compensation and hold the at-fault party accountable for damages.
Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law specializes in Mississippi medical malpractice cases. We offer free and confidential case evaluations to those exploring legal recourse after suffering the effects of a medical error. These types of cases can be highly involved and difficult to win. We recommend speaking with an accomplished medical malpractice attorney before moving forward on your own. Our office is ready to schedule your no-obligation case evaluation at your convenience.
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