SALINETRO vs NYSTROM (Fla., 1977): PREGNANCY
In this case, neither the physician nor the x-ray technologist asked the patient if she
were pregnant The court, however, ruled against the plaintiff because she herself did
not know that the she was 4-6 weeks pregnant at the hire of the x-ray. The court
ruled that even if the orthopedist's conduct fell below the standard because of his
failure to ask the patient if she were pregnant, that error was not the cause of the
injury. Had the patient been asked the crucial question, she would still have said she
was not pregnant, and the x-ray would have been administered anyway.
4-19. NEWER IMAGING MODALITIES
a. Ultrasonography. While there is less litigation related to the newer imaging
modalities as compared to the older techniques; in time, it is likely that the newer
techniques will become just as common a basis of malpractice suits. Many of the
ultrasound-related legal actions relate to the physician failing to perform a sonogram.
The majority of the cases involving ultrasonography involve obstetrical sonography.
But, radiologists who don't perform obstetrical sonography may still become involved in
a suit involving the missed ectopic pregnancy, the most common cause for litigation in
Dr. Sander's missed diagnosis category.16 Other common nonobstetrical reasons for
legal action include missed appendiceal abscesses and missed gallstones. A
radiologist may also end up in court for finding lesions that don't exist, such as a
carcinoma of the pancreas, gallstones, and intrauterine devices (IUDs). Therapeutic
sonograms for muscular problems have also figured in the reported cases. Radiologists
and sonographers should be careful not to perform an interventional procedure that is of
questionable value, as they will be held to a higher standard of care than the primary
physician, as the residing specialist in the case.
b. Computed Tomography. Among the newer modalities, the computed axial
tomographic (CAT) scan figures in malpractice cases because of the frequent need for
intravenous contrast and the occasional need to sedate the patient. In addition, CAT
scans are often used as evidence, especially in worker's compensation cases in which a
back injury is alleged.
WATERFORD vs HALLOWAY (III. App., 1986): FAILURE TO USE A SONOGRAM
The plaintiff brought suit against her gynecologist for failing to use a sonogram to
diagnose and treat an abscess that she developed after a hysterectomy. The
defendant physician opted to conduct a pelvic examination rather than use a
sonogram. Expert medical testimony revealed the sonogram to be an acceptable
alternative to the pelvic examination as a diagnostic tool in a case such as this. Initially
and on appeal, the court ruled In favor of the defendant gynecologist.