4-22. AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION
a. Reduce Unwanted Litigation. In his book Radiology) and the Law, Dr.
Bundy suggests 15 practical steps that can help radiologists to reduce the likelihood of
unwanted litigation.l7 These guidelines also have some applicability to the radiographer.
Some of these steps are common sense measures that have been covered elsewhere
in this text, but they bear repeating in that they provide a helpful recap of this section.
b. Talk to the Patient. By letting the patient know who you are, putting him or
her at ease, and answering questions truthfully you are less likely to turn a patient into a
plaintiff. For the technologist, this may mean telling the patient, "Im sorry, I can't answer
that question. But, Dr. Jones will be right with you to go over everything with you
c. Obtain the Appropriate History. Missed diagnosis, slip-and-fall, or contrast
reaction cases may be reduced if the x-ray technologist and the radiologist know the
relevant information about the patient's history.
d. Avoid Performing Studies for Which You Are Not Properly Trained. If you,
as a radiographer, lack the necessary background in subspecialties such as
ultrasonography, interventional radiology, or magnetic resonance imaging, you should
alert your supervisor to this deficiency so that a decision can be made about referring
the patient elsewhere.
e. Avoid Performing Unnecessary Studies. (Self-explanatory.)
f. Know You Referring Physicians. The radiologist can facilitate proper
diagnosis by suggesting the appropriate radiological workup of a problem.
g. Submit Reports on Time. The radiologist should be responsible for phoning
in any finding that requires prompt attention. In your report, document that the matter
was discussed with the appropriate physician. (Refer back to Shufer vs Blue Ridge
h. Read Your Reports Before You Sign Them. Miscommunication or
misinformation resulting from a typographical error is avoidable if the radiologist takes
the time to re-read his or her report before signing it.
i. Be Complete. Be sure to document incomplete studies and the reason it
was incomplete. Ultimately, it is the radiologist who will be held accountable for
incomplete studies. But, the radiographer has a responsibility to advise the radiologist
about incomplete or substandard studies. (Again, see Shuffler vs Blue Ridge Radiology