Medical Imaging Greatly Impacts Patient Diagnosis

From the beginning, medical imaging has made a huge impact on how doctors and specialists diagnose their patients. With the invention of the CT scan and MRI machines in the late 70s and early 80s, doctors are able to diagnose diseases and medical conditions with more accuracy and earlier than ever before. The rate of advanced imaging use in diagnosing patients was clearly seen in a recent study of US hospitals that showed the use of imaging in Emergency departments increasing by 38.4% from 2006 to 2014.

The use of diagnostic imaging extends beyond the ER, and into nearly every specialist office you visit, from pulmonology to orthopedics, your diagnosis is heavily impacted by the report delivered by the radiologist used by the imaging center you visit.  Your radiology imaging is interpreted by a radiologist who analyzes the images and creates a report of their findings. This report is typically the only interaction your specialist will have with your diagnostic exam, depending on your condition and the type of specialist you are visiting. The radiology report serves as the foundation of your diagnosis and subsequent treatment plan put together by your specialists and team of physicians reviewing your case.

As with any science, there is room for error and unfortunately, radiology is not immune to diagnostic errors. It is estimated that approximately 40 million diagnostic errors occur annual worldwide in the interpretation of medical imaging with error rates at 3 - 5% overall. However, the percentage of diagnostic errors fluctuates depending on the exam type. For instance, MRIs have can have up to a 30% error rate. Errors range across the board, from underreporting of issues, classified as a "miss", when a critical finding is not observed. Misses can occur within the examined area, but can also occur when the radiologist does not report a critical finding in an area that was not associated with the clinical reason for the diagnostic imaging procedure. Errors can also be classified as a "misinterpretation" in which the radiologist's report of the findings lead to an incorrect diagnosis. 

Errors in diagnosis can lead to delayed diagnosis, repeat imaging, and unnecessary surgeries, all of which can greatly increase medical expenses. Getting a second opinion on your medical imaging exam can offer peace of mind that your original report is correct, all findings are reported, and interpretations are accurate.

Second Opinions Changed Management and Care for 92% of Patients