Radiology is a branch of medicine that uses x-rays and other images to diagnose and treat diseases. Radiologists are the physicians that specialize in radiology that interpret the radiology. They are crucial to disease management in patients because they have the education, training, tools, and techniques to obtain detailed information about patients’ diseases including the stage of the disease, the progression of a disease, and the location of disease. Medical doctors in other fields rely on the radiologist’s interpretation of x-ray and CT images in order to set plans for treatment, prescriptions, and maintenance. A radiologist that fails to adequately review the images may cause additional harm or death to a patient.
Georgie Burstein’s husband was transported by paramedics to West Boca Medical Center in January 2015. He hit his head on a filing cabinet while he was trying to tie his shoe. At the time of the injury, he was on blood-thinning medication, which placed him at risk for a brain hemorrhage; therefore, a doctor ordered CT scans. Radiologist Steven Fuhr interpreted Mr. Burstein’s CT images and said he found no hemorrhaging. The hospital discharge him fifteen minutes after Fuhr’s conclusion about the images. However, after Burstein left the hospital, his condition worsened, and he went to a different hospital. The radiologist at the second hospital found massive internal bleeding in Mr. Burstein’s brain. The next day he died.
Georgie filed a negligence lawsuit in April 2017 against hospital chain Tenet Healthcare, Dr. Fuhr, and his employer Sheridan Radiology Services of South Florida. The lawsuit alleged that Fuhr did not properly review Mr. Burstein’s CT images. He received almost 700 images of Mr. Burstein’s brain, but he only took a half of second to look at each image. In total, he spent six and a half minutes interpreting the scans. Evidence was produced to show that Dr. Fuhr failed to properly review the images and missed a serious health issue that led to the patient’s death. The lawsuit settled in favor of Georgie and her deceased husband for two million dollars.
Radiologists are medical professionals. Under Florida law, they have a standard of professional conduct that must meet. The standard is a recognizable and acceptable level of skill, care, and treatment with the radiology profession. To determine whether a radiologist has meet his standard of care, the trier-of-fact must look the surrounding circumstances at the time of the alleged wrongful medical act. If the radiologist fails to meet his standard of care, he is liable for medical malpractice. The family of a patient that dies because of a doctor medical negligence may seek compensation for the death of their loved one as well damages they incurred from the person’s death.
Damages from a medical malpractice lawsuit may be economic damages or noneconomic damages. When damages have a set amount, they are called economic damages and include medical expenses, lost wages, and lost earning capacity. Noneconomic damages are not calculable amounts and usually are based on the emotional and mental damages for the injuries. They include physical impairment, pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life. For medical malpractice cases, Florida law limits the amount of noneconomic damages that a claimant may receive.