Attaching a patient’s photo to their X-rays can get around the problem of patient mix-ups that, while relatively rare, can lead to dire consequences, according to a recent study.

While it is estimated that X-ray identification errors occur in 1 out of every 10,000 patients, the fallout could be catastrophic when they do happen.

“The patient could be diagnosed with cancer and then get an operation he shouldn’t have while the patient who should have gotten the cancer diagnosis isn’t getting the surgery,” said Dr. Srini Tridandapani, the author of the study. “So you could be affecting two patients.”

Part of the problem is that doctors don’t expect to get the wrong X-ray and often don’t recognize the mistake when it happens. In the study, 10 radiologists were given 200 pairs of X-rays to read, one pair per patient; they caught only three out of 24 mismatches when no photo was attached but 16 out of 25 errors when photos were included.

The process of implementing photos remains to be seen, though; skeptics believe they may make it take longer to read X-rays or patients might not want photos of themselves included in their medical files. Read the full details here:

Say ‘Cheese’: Photos may avert X-ray mix-ups, study finds

This interesting study suggests a way to avoid patient mix-ups or the wrong patient receiving negligence care due to a radiology study being interpreted for them when it was meant for another patient. Advances as simple as taking a photograph of the patient has helped stop medical negligence in this regard.

If you or a family member believe you have a medical malpractice case, including “wrong patient” errors, contact Crandall & Pera Law today for a free case evaluation. Crandall & Pera Law is available to help answer your questions and guide you in determining your next steps.