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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Stan Zipser, MD, JD (University of Colorado Health Sciences Center)
Description: This is a book on legal issues involved in the practice of radiology.
Purpose: The purpose of this book is to educate the radiologist on legal issues encountered in the practice of radiology. More specifically, the author seeks to make radiologists aware of how they can "become enmeshed in the legal system" and offers suggestions on risk reduction. These are worthy objectives as almost every radiologist frequently considers the legal implications involved in practicing radiology. The book is moderately successful at introducing the reader to many legal issues surrounding the practice of radiology, and in particular, educating the reader at how they may encounter the legal system and practice risk reduction strategies.
Audience: The book is intended for the practicing radiologist and would be instructive for the radiology resident and fellow as well. Because it is a broad, easy to reference introduction to many legal issues surrounding the practice of radiology, this book fulfills the needs of the radiologist. The author is a well known diagnostic radiologist, but is less prominent in the legal arena.
Features: This book introduces many legal topics that a practicing radiologist may encounter. The book begins with legal theories behind a malpractice action, and then covers such topics as the anatomy of a malpractice lawsuit, professional liability insurance, the missed diagnosis, informed consent, subspecialty areas such as breast imaging, PACS and email issues. The book's strengths lie in its breadth of areas covered and its detailed table of contents making the subject matter easily referable. It is a good introductory book and starting place for the radiologist looking for a quick explanation of a legal topic; that is, it is most useful as a reference when a specific legal question arises. I see only the very interested radiologist reading the book cover to cover. It is not an authoritative text on legal medicine. The book has weaknesses. First, the writing is at times incoherent. For example, the section dealing with vicarious liability issues of technologists - an important topic - is muddled and impossible to understand as written. Secondly, the book is sometimes incomplete from a legal point of view. For example, when discussing defenses against a claim of the missed radiographic diagnosis, the author does not mention one of the basic defenses against such a claim: namely, did the missed diagnosis cause an injury to the plaintiff patient? While the book does not purport to be a definitive text on medical malpractice, it sometimes even fails to provide the basic background of the topics the author chooses to address. Finally, the author at times relies too much on the work of Dr. Leonard Berlin. Some chapters are only a recapitulation of what Dr. Berlin has written in previous articles.
Assessment: This is a well organized and practical introduction to legal issues a radiologist encounters. It is a good book to refer to for a quick review of many legal topics. It falls short at times, however, in articulating even basic legal theories behind the topics introduced. It is better organized and slightly more authoritative but a little less engaging than Dr. Berlin's articles and books addressing radiologists' legal issues. There are countless articles and books on medical malpractice in both the medical and legal literature that cover the legal topics of this book better and more thoroughly, but this book is somewhat unique in that it is geared toward the radiologist.