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Cognitive bias and other causes of radiology errors

On Behalf of | Sep 18, 2020 | Medical Malpractice

Radiologists have a massive workload. Since they analyze and interpret around one image every three to four seconds, diagnostic errors are bound to arise. Massachusetts residents should know that radiologists have a global error rate of 3% to 5%, which comes to an average of 40 million cases of error each year. Seventy-five percent of malpractice claims against radiologists involve a diagnostic error.

Cognitive bias and errors

Radiologists may misinterpret an image through cognitive bias, or thought patterns that can affect their decision-making without their knowing about it. Out of this can come confirmation bias, where one seeks out those things that will agree with what one already believes, and the fundamental attribution error, where one may focus on a person’s character as the explanation for something.

Between 60% and 80% of diagnostic errors can be attributed to a perceptual error. As mentioned above, the workload of a radiologist makes such an error more likely as it can lead to fatigue, a bad mood and illness.

System-related factors in the trend

Many errors are not due simply to the practitioner’s poor performance. Lack of teamwork, communication errors, equipment failure, long shifts, poor lighting and imperfect policies for the prevention of error can all play a part. Many are looking to technology, especially artificial intelligence, to help reduce the risk for errors.

For the victims of a diagnostic error

Perhaps a radiological error led to you being injured, undergoing the wrong treatments and suffering from the progression of your true condition. Under a medical malpractice claim, you might be eligible for compensation if you were harmed by a doctor’s negligence. There must be evidence that the other side did not live up to a generally accepted standard of care, so you may want a lawyer to help you in this regard.