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AI outperforms radiologists for diagnosing pneumonia

Dec 11, 2017 | Failure to Diagnose

Despite advancements in medicine, some New Yorkers die from pneumonia every year. With prompt diagnoses and proper treatment, more people could survive bouts of pneumonia. Unfortunately, pneumonia is sometimes misdiagnosed by radiologists when people go to to the emergency department.

Radiologists have to interpret x-rays in order to diagnose pneumonia. In some cases, the radiologists either fail to identify the pneumonia infections while in others, they may diagnose the patients as having different lung conditions. Getting prompt treatment for pneumonia can prevent it from worsening and from people potentially succumbing to the illness.

Researchers at Stanford have developed artificial intelligence called CheXnet that can diagnose pneumonia with a high degree of accuracy. The AI, which is a neural network, was trained with more than 112,000 lung x-rays of pneumonia and 13 other lung diseases. The AI was then tested against four radiologists at Stanford. Both the AI and the radiologists were given 420 lung x-rays, some of which showed pneumonia. The software outperformed the radiologists in the study. The AI is also easy to use. Doctors simply have to input x-rays into the program and are then given a numerical probability of whether or not the lungs are infected with pneumonia. The program also uses color to highlight areas of infection so that the doctors can make better treatment decisions.

A doctor’s failure to diagnose an illness such as pneumonia may cause serious repercussions to the patients. People who do not get the proper treatment for pneumonia may suffer a quickly worsened disease process and might ultimately succumb to the illness. Others may suffer permanent lung damage that limits their ability to enjoy life in the future. Victims of misdiagnoses and the families of people who have died might want to talk to experienced medical malpractice lawyers to learn about their rights.