According to one study, doctors and radiologists in New York might be able to cut down on errors is by attaching photos of patients to X-rays. A recent study by the Emory University School of Medicine showed that doctors are only able to detect a mismatch in X-rays about 13 percent of the time without a patient photo attached to the X-rays. This means that if X-rays are misfiled, medical errors are far more likely.
During the study, researchers had radiologists inspect 20 pairs of X-ray images, and there were between two and four mismatched pairs in each set. When radiologists looked at X-rays that did not have patient images attached, they were only able to pick out errors 13 percent of the time. When researchers gave another set of radiologists pairs of X-ray images and told them to use the patient photos attached to aid them, error detection rate rose to 94 percent.
It is not uncommon for X-rays to look similar to each other, which means that if they are mixed up with another patient’s, it can be difficult to sort out the mismatch. It is estimated that one out of every 10,000 examinations have errors due to X-rays being attributed to the wrong patient. By attaching a photo to each set of X-rays, it could greatly reduce errors made by doctors.
People seeking medical attention for an injury should not have to worry that their information or X-rays will be mismatched and that they will not receive appropriate care. If someone has been the victim of malpractice, they may want to speak with an attorney to find out what their legal recourse is.
Source: US News, “Adding Patient Photos to X-Rays May Cut Identification Errors,” April 15, 2013