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Are digital X-rays always accurate?

On Behalf of | Nov 23, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

A person may need digital X-rays to know what’s going on with their body. Physicians use digital X-rays as a way of getting a more detailed analysis of conditions. However, are digital X-rays as accurate as people hope in New York?

False positive lung cancer results

Digital X-rays are the easiest way to see what’s going on with a patient. While digital X-rays catch disease and injury early, there are chances for false positive results. In one study, the risk for false positive results on chest radiography and low-dose CT were high after two screenings. The low-dose CT scans had false positives more than the chest X-ray.

CT scans for lung cancer

A false positive result is a positive screening with a negative workup or a year or longer of follow-up with no lung cancer diagnosis. Health care institutes using CT scans for lung cancer screenings have become more common over the years. People are paying attention to the process because of the potential for medical malpractice claims. CT scans commonly give false positive results to lung cancers screenings, which exposes patients to more potential harm. An issue with low-dose CT scans is that studies don’t report the amount of false positive results.

Randomized, controlled trial

One randomized, controlled trial looked at patients with one- to two-year lung cancer screenings. The patients must have had at least one false positive result. The trial consisted of 3,190 current and former smokers between the ages of 55 to 74. When the patients were smoking, they went through at least 30 packs a year and had no history of lung cancer. The trial compared low-dose CT scans with chest radiography for unnecessary diagnostic procedures.

Statistics of digital X-ray accuracy

According to the study results, a low-dose CT scan has a 21% chance of a false positive for lung cancer. After a second examination, the chances of false-positive increase to 33%. Chest radiography has a 9% chance of a false positive for lung cancer. After a second examination, the chances of false-positive increase to 15%. Approximately 61% of the CT scan patients had another scan while 7% of the CT scan patients had invasive procedures. About 51% of the chest radiography had another chest X-ray, and 4% of the chest radiography patients had invasive procedures.

Malpractice is common in medicine because doctors see so many patients a day and may make errors. It’s possible for a patient to undergo unnecessary treatment after a false positive.