Radiologist who tried to cover up multiple procedural mistakes is handed a career-ending judgment

A London radiologist was recently erased from the medical register after conducting procedures on the incorrect body parts of patients and later trying to alter medical records to cover the mistakes. 

Claudia Martinez Higueros, MD, PhD, was practicing as a locum interventional radiologist at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust at the time of the incidents. There were two serious incidents in the span of three months that raised concerns among Martinez Higueros’ colleagues, according to official documents.  

The first incident took place in December 2019, when Martinez Higueros was scheduled to aspirate a pleural effusion of a patient’s left lung. She instead conducted the procedure on the patient’s right lung. 

The decision to change the procedure was made without first properly reviewing the patient’s clinical information, and it was not discussed with the referring providers before or after the procedure was completed, tribunal documents show. Despite this, Martinez Higueros made an addendum to the patient’s chart stating that “medical team” had been contacted about the change. 

The patient had to have an additional procedure to aspirate the pleural effusion in the correct lung. 

Another incident with similar circumstances occurred in February 2020 when Martinez Higueros biopsied a lesion on a patient’s right kidney, rather than their left. After the procedure, it is alleged that the radiologist again took steps to cover the mistake, this time asking the histopathology department to also change their report to state that the patient’s specimen came from their left kidney, despite her own documentation notating that it had come from the right kidney. 

That patient also had to have an additional procedure. 

Martinez Higueros blamed the hospital’s recordkeeping system and miscommunications among colleagues for the mistakes. 

The General Medical Council, however, saw it differently. 

In a recent tribunal hearing, the council concluded that Martinez Higueros had shown “reckless disregard” for patient safety. 

“Dr Martinez Higueros does not consider in any detail the potential impact of her actions and dishonesty on Patients A and B and on the standing of her colleagues and the medical profession,” the panel wrote. “Also, Dr Martinez Higueros reflections are silent on how she would prevent a similar situation arising again and the mechanisms she has in place to ensure there is no repetition.” 

The council concluded that Martinez Higueros should be erased from the medical registry. 

Hannah murhphy headshot

In addition to her background in journalism, Hannah also has patient-facing experience in clinical settings, having spent more than 12 years working as a registered rad tech. She joined Innovate Healthcare in 2021 and has since put her unique expertise to use in her editorial role with Health Imaging.

Trimed Popup
Trimed Popup