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1.  Medico-legal claims against English radiologists: 1995–2006 
The British Journal of Radiology  2009;82(984):982-988.
A list of claims against radiologists from 1995–2006 was obtained from the NHS Litigation Authority. It shows a total of 440 claims. The largest number of claims (199) related to delayed or missed diagnoses of cancer, and 73 claims related to breast radiology. There is a trend for a mild increase in the number of claims each year. 30 claims were made after a false-positive diagnosis of cancer. Just under £8.5 million has so far been paid in damages, with a further £5 million in legal fees. A claim for multiple missed diagnoses of breast cancer led to a pay-out of £464 000 (£673 000 after legal fees); the largest sum awarded following a delay in the diagnosis of an individual cancer was £300 000. The subtle legal distinction between error and negligence is reviewed here. The reason why breast radiologists are more likely to be sued than any other type of British radiologist is also discussed, along with the implications for UK radiological practice, particularly in light of the recent Chief Medical Officer's report on revalidation. A method is proposed that may protect radiologists from allegations of clinical negligence in the future.
PMCID: PMC3473391  PMID: 19470570
2.  Prospective evaluation of cerebral angiography and computed tomography in cerebral haematoma. 
One hundred and two consecutive patients with cerebral haematoma were prospectively allocated to one of two groups according to their CT on admission. Group 1 patients were thought to have a high probability of an underlying structural lesion and underwent cerebral angiography acutely. If normal, this was repeated at three months. Group 2 patients were thought not to have such a lesion and underwent angiography at three months. Patients older than the mean age of the study population, and hypertensive patients were much less likely to harbour an aneurysm or arteriovenous malformation than younger or normotensive patients (p < 0.01; sensitivity 87.9%, specificity 88.6%). An aneurysm or arteriovenous malformation was the cause of haemorrhage in 12.8% of hypertensive patients, in 30.9% of patients with haematoma involving the basal ganglia, and 18.2% of those with posterior fossa haemorrhage. Features of CT in isolation give a sensitivity of 77.2% and a specificity of 84.2%. Follow up angiography in group 1 showed an arteriovenous malformation in one of seven patients in whom the original study was normal. These results contrast sharply with data from previous retrospective studies. The decision to investigate a patient with cerebral haematoma should be primarily based on the patient's clinical condition, rather than on the site of haemorrhage.
PMCID: PMC485483  PMID: 7931378
3.  Radiographic examination of the lumbar spine in a community hospital: an audit of current practice. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1991;303(6806):813-815.
OBJECTIVE--To assess general practitioners' decisions to request lumbar spine radiographs according to the guidelines of the Royal College of Radiologists. DESIGN--Prospective questionnaire survey of outpatients attending for lumbar spine radiography. SETTING--London community hospital. SUBJECTS--100 consecutive adult outpatients attending for lumbar spine radiography at their general practitioner's request. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Patient's history and clinical signs; radiological diagnosis; change in management of patients with significant radiological abnormality in response to the radiologist's report. RESULTS--60 patients were aged between 18 and 45, 27 (45%) of whom were women. Five patients were fully examined by their doctor before radiographs were requested, 76 were partially examined, and 19 were not examined. In 37 patients the examinations showed radiologically normal findings; 30 had radiologically significant disc or degenerative disease. Pain score and radiological diagnosis was not correlated (6.43 (range 1-10) for patients with significant disease v 6.14 (range 1-10) for those without, p greater than 0.05). There were no cases of malignancy or infection. One patient with radiologically significant disease was referred to a hospital specialist, and the management of only two such patients was altered by the report. 52 of the examinations should not have been requested if the guidelines had been strictly applied. CONCLUSIONS--There is a need to inform doctors of the efficacy of radiological examinations. An awareness of the college's guidelines among general practitioners should be actively promoted by radiologists.
PMCID: PMC1671162  PMID: 1932970

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