Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a procedure that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to capture body images. This non-invasive technique is used to diagnose patients’ diseases, injuries, and other medical problems such as benign brain tumor growths, muscle tears, and bone fractures.
MRI scanning procedures have become more commonplace in recent years as doctors and patients have recognized their benefits. That being said, any time a patient enters a hospital for an exam or surgical procedure, there’s always an inherent risk involved.
However, MRI malpractice cases are rare given the complexity of this imaging technique and the precautions required to prevent MRI accidents. Still, when they occur, they tend to involve fundamental safety issues that lead to these claims.
Understanding these risks can help you identify potential red flags if you’re ever considering going for an MRI scan.
What Is MRI Malpractice?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical test that uses a magnet and radio waves to create pictures of the inside of your body. MRI scans can diagnose certain conditions, detect cancers, and monitor how well treatments work. But like any medical procedure, there is a small risk of complications that can lead to MRI malpractice.
MRI malpractice occurs when a patient is given an incorrect or improper MRI scan or fails to receive a needed MRI scan. When doctors fail to provide a proper diagnosis or fail to administer proper treatment, they are committing malpractice.
MRI malpractice can also occur if a patient is given an excessive dose of radiation during an MRI procedure, thereby increasing the risk of injury or long-term damage from the MRI. Conversely, if a patient is given a lower radiation dose than is necessary for the MRI procedure, it increases the risk that the MRI becomes inconclusive or fails to detect a condition or illness.
When either of these happens, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against the facility where the MRI accident occurred.
Clinical Approach to Diagnosing Malpractice Liability
Doctors need to look at three things when diagnosing malpractice liability: Did something go wrong? If so, did this thing go wrong because of something the doctor did or didn’t do? Finally, was this mistake due to a physician’s negligence (unprofessional behavior)?
The answers to these questions can ultimately decide if there was any professional wrongdoing on behalf of the doctor.
The next step in this process is determining whether the mistakes made any difference in how the treatment turned out for the patient. Finally, after determining whether there were professional errors and examining their impact on the outcome, doctors should consider whether they caused physical or emotional harm to the patient. These factors will help determine if the doctor committed any malpractice.
Issues Involved in will MRI Malpractice
1. Improperly Positioned Equipment
For an MRI scan to be completed, the patient must be positioned appropriately on the table and within arms reach of the machine to hold onto it while they undergo their examination. If they are not in an appropriate position, this may result in improper scanning and harm or even kill them.
2. The Use of Foreign Objects
Foreign objects, such as jewelry or metal objects, should not be worn during an MRI scan because they will disrupt the electromagnetic field inside the machine. However, some patients wear these items and then take them off when staff asks; if this is done during a procedure, serious injury can occur due to metal pieces being propelled into sensitive areas like the eye.
3. Improperly Secured Medical Devices
If devices, such as medical equipment or IVs, are not correctly secured before entering the MRI room, they can become dislodged and cause injury to both the patient and those in attendance.
4. Failure to Properly Clean Equipment
Even though an MRI machine is designed to remain sterile throughout its use, if it is not properly cleaned, bacteria and viruses can build up on surfaces. If another patient enters for a scan, they could be exposed to harmful microorganisms.
5. Interference with Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technology From Outside Sources
MRI machines emit strong magnetic fields, which can interfere with electric devices outside the machine’s chamber. One example is pacemakers; if someone has one implanted, the device will send out radio signals through the body and interfere with data collection from an MRI exam.
6. Lack of Appropriate Safety Precautions
MRI exams typically require close contact between the patient and doctors or technicians performing the exam. For this reason, there need to be proper MRI safety precautions in place to ensure no one is injured during the process. For instance, everyone who enters the MRI scanner room should wear protective gear such as lab coats and gloves.
How to Determine MRI Malpractice
When determining whether or not an MRI accident is, in fact, a case of medical negligence, a doctor will look at whether or not there was a deviation from standard care.
Standard care is the appropriate and customary treatment for a particular type of patient with the same presenting complaint, at the same medical center, by other physicians in the same specialty area. It’s important to note that a physician must provide medical evidence to prove that they provided standard care. Otherwise, it’s more likely than not that they were negligent.
MRI malpractice can have devastating consequences. If you or a loved one has been injured due to an error during an MRI scan, it is crucial to seek experienced legal help from J.P. Ward & Associates.
We have a team of experienced medical malpractice attorneys who will review your case and help determine if you have a claim. If you have a claim, rest assured that we will fight for your rights so you can get the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today at (412) 426-4878 to learn more about your options if you were injured during an MRI scan, or visit our website for any legal questions about a medical error.