Many patients never meet the radiologist who has studied their mammogram, ultrasound, MRI or another type of scan. They may just see a name at the bottom of a report – if they even see that.
Radiologists are highly trained professionals whose findings doctors rely on when diagnosing and treating a wide range of conditions. Sometimes they make mistakes. If a radiologist’s errors or negligence cause harm, they can potentially be held legally accountable.
What if the findings of a scan are based, at least in part, on artificial intelligence (AI)? That’s the question facing radiologists and others looking at the legal ramifications of incorporating AI into diagnostic radiology.
What role can and should AI play in diagnostic radiology?
While AI wouldn’t replace radiologists, it can act as a second review. One doctor notes that if AI is used only as a tool and the radiologist makes the final call, the radiologist is responsible for any errors and can’t attempt to pass off that responsibility on those behind the AI.
The doctor notes that even if an “autonomous algorithm” is used, the facility that’s using it would have “enterprise” liability for its errors. That’s why some in the profession are hesitant about incorporating increasingly autonomous technology despite its potential for improving outcomes for patients.
One international survey found that over 90% of imaging providers thought the use of AI would improve diagnostic radiology. However, over 60% of them said they think that legal and ethical issues would create hesitancy in increasing the use of AI.
If you or a loved one suffers harm because of a missed or inaccurate diagnosis, you likely won’t accept – nor should you – the contention that no human is to blame. However, as medicine grows ever more reliant on technology and AI, it’s crucial to ensure that the correct parties are held liable when things go awry.