Medical Malpractice/Misread MRI


I've had back pain that radiates down my leg for the last 6-7 months. I went through all the conservative options for 3 1/2 months and they didn't work. My doctor sent me for an MRI. The radiologist reported a few days later I had a mild to moderate bulging disc in the L5 region. I was then sent to a pain specialist for cortisone shots. The first one didn't provide that much relief and I came back for a second a week later along with scheduled physical therapy. The second shot work for about 5 weeks and then the pain came back. I called the doctor who had given me the shots to see if another shot was an option. His nurse delivered the message and I received a phone call from the doctor a few days later telling me that he had given my MRI to a Spine surgeon in the same office to review and he determined that the Radiologist had misread the MRI and in fact I had herniated disc pushing against my nerve. This would've changed the way I was treated and now I have to schedule surgery and miss work. I could've scheduled during this years vacation for work and over over Christmas shutdown if the MRI was read correctly. Now I have to schedule after the New year, use up my vacation, pay a new deductible for my insurance, and suffer a month longer. Do I have any recourse against the Radiologist who misread the MRI?

First of all, there is a very fine line between what might be identified as a buldging disc and what is diagnosed as a herniated disc.  In fact, I bet you could take 10 specialists and there might be a vote of 5 against 5.  That's the first point.  But let's presume all 10 would say you had a herniated disc and not just a buldge.  In other words, the radiologist's diagnosis was flat out wrong and he should have known it.  That would be malpractice.  So what are you going to do with that?  His mistake cost you a lot of inconvenience, maybe some income, suffer a month longer,etc.  What is that all worth considering if the radiologist made the correct diagnosis you would have needed the surgery anyhow of course.?  Would you say $5,000, $10,000, $20, much?  Well here are the facts of life: You have no recourse against the radiologist........assuming he was negligent............without suing him. A lawyer taking on the case would have to hire an expert in radiology who would study your entire case.  That would cost probably $4,000, give or take a couple thousand. Filing and serving the case another $1,000.  Lawyer has about 30 hours of time in the case at this point. Defendant radiologist thru his insurance company and some very high price defense attorneys hires expert radiologists also.  Your lawyer incurs a cost of probably another $3,000 to take the defense expert deposition. The expert says the diagnosis was correct or at least in the ballpark and that it was a  judgment call and there was no negligence.  Months more go by, your lawyer has now spent probably $20,000 and radiologist won't settle and then it is either abandon the case or go to trial and then spend another $15,000 and maybe 100 more hours of time for your attorney.  Chance of winning probably 50% at the very best. And what is the value of the case? How much is your vacation, your inconvenience, your loss of some weeks of income, if any, one extra month of waiting??????????How much Fouzi??? Enough for any lawyer to take on such a case???  The defense would also be that it was good medical practice, whether you had a herniation or not, to try something conservative first such as the injections before doing a big surgery.  Unless the herniation is very severe, they would also try conservative treatment first, and rightfully so. And what about your lawyer?  He loses his $20,000 more or less plus hundreds of hours of his work unless the case is won by a jury awarding you a lot of money and your case is not worth the risk for that attorney unless your damages were worth at least 250K.  So no,  you have no legal recourse.  But Fouzi, if you thought about it more,  you would have known this, wouldn't you?  

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Glenn A. Dorfman


Thirty-four years experience in personal injury, medical malpractice and medical product liability law. Qualified to answer all questions regarding injuries and the law, except for worker`s compensation. Also wide experience in medical product defect cases ie current litigation regarding the Johnson&Johnson (DePuy)defective hip implant cases and Mirena IUD issues


Thirty-four years experience handling cases involving auto accidents, trips and fall, fires, dog bite,medical malpractice and defective medical product cases with particular emphasis in 2012 and beyond with the DePuy ASR (Johnson&Johnson) defective hip implant cases. Twenty-five years of experience with defective IUD issues as well

Jurisdoctor Degree 1976 and Member in good standing with CA State Bar Assoc. since 1976

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