Dr. Raskin is a practicing diagnostic radiologist in the
subspecialty of neuroradiology in Fort Lauderdale, FL. He is
Chairman of the Risk Management Committee of American Institute
of Ultrasound Medicine and past President of the Florida
Radiological Society. He practices full-time diagnostic
radiology and does not practice law except as the Internal
Legal Counsel to the Florida Radiological Society. He is also a
member of the Editorial Board of this journal.
In our litigious society, the odds of getting sued for medical
malpractice are about one in four. While the incidence of lawsuits
has increased, it has increased for all fields, not just radiology.
What is most alarming is the increase in the number of jury awards
of $1,000,000 or more: About 45% in 1998 to 1999 were $1,000,000 or
more, compared with 39% in 1997 to 1998. This increase in jury
awards raised the median medical malpractice award from $750,000 in
1998 to $800,000 in 1999.
Unfortunately, while the average indemnification has doubled in
the last 15 years for all physicians, it has tripled for
radiologists. Approximately one-third of all medical malpractice
lawsuits are won by the plaintiff. However, if the claim is for a
missed diagnosis, approximately 41% are won for the plaintiff. The
most common missed diagnoses are breast cancer, lung cancer, and
fracture of the spine, in that order. This is not meant to scare
you but only awaken you to the fact that radiology cannot be
practiced in a vacuum.
This issue of Applied Radiology is unique in that all the
articles, with one exception, are written by MD radiologists who
are also attorneys. In the United States, there are approximately
25 dual-degree radiologists (MD/JD) currently practicing. Most of
these practice full-time radiology, while some practice a little of
both, and a few practice only law. That one exception to the MD/JD
authorship is an article by Lenny Berlin discussing some medical
legal issues concerning computer-aided detection in mammography.
Although not an attorney, Dr. Berlin is widely recognized as an
authority on medical-legal issues in radiology.
The topics of the articles in this issue were chosen carefully
to integrate both the medical and legal concepts of the radiologic
issues discussed. I hope that reading these articles may better
prepare you to minimize your risk of legal liability while still
practicing high-quality radiology. Even if one of these articles
merely raises your concern to review your practice parameters, then
this issue will be successful.
Note: For more information, visit the Website of the American
College of Legal Medicine: www.aclm.org.