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About those radiology results...

Without a proper diagnosis, it's almost impossible to get the right treatment. It's a basic of medical treatment and it's often the reason we go to the doctor in the first place.

So why is the diagnosis sometimes wrong?

MRIs and interpretation

For pains, ailments and a wide variety of injuries, we visit the doctor and have an MRI that shows radiologists an image of the inside of our bodies. It can show tumors, musculoskeletal issues, spinal problems, prostrate and gastrointestinal conditions and more. An MRI can show a lot, but it's still an image, not an actual, real look at the inside of your body. When a doctor reads the results, it's an interpretation of the picture they took.

How accurate are those results?

A study published by The Spine Journal in December raises doubts about the quality of those readings. In the study, a single patient went to 10 difference clinics. Out of 49 findings from the 10 clinics, not one condition was identified by all 10 participants.

The study confirms that MRI results rely on the skill of analysis, and it's lacking consistency. Each of the 49 findings could require different treatments, the study's author notes, from physical therapy to surgery. You could receive a mildly interruptive therapy schedule or you could go under the knife and need considerable recovery time after surgery.

An incorrect diagnosis

Using the injury example from the study, a spine condition is complex and hard to identify. Regardless of difficulty, though, the wrong treatment is expensive and, just as important, time consuming.

Time is money, and if you get the wrong diagnosis it sets you back.

Possible effects of the wrong treatment can include:

  • Your condition getting worse.
  • Missing unnecessary time from work and family.
  • Putting additional stress on your body by forcing recovery from treatments that you didn't need in the first place.
  • One wrong reading can set you back significantly.

What to do

A doctor's job is hard. While our biology is the same, each human body is unique and responds differently. The concerning part of this study isn't that doctors can be wrong, but that the standard of quality in diagnosis is lacking.

As highly trained professionals in a closely monitored line of work, it's expected that there will be a universal ability to correctly find and fix problems at different clinics, regardless of who is reading the MRI results.

Anyone who has faced inept or negligent medical treatment should seek help for their situation before the bills mount further and your body pays the price. Medical malpractice attorneys are experts at gathering facts and investigating what happened in your treatment, including in the lab. If the work wasn't done to its best ability, it deserves a closer look.

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