Case Archive
Radiology, Ultrasound
Ref. # 15597

A New York woman was under the care of her family practitioner for her pregnancy. When the fetus was at 18 1/2 weeks gestation, the woman was sent for a routine screening ultrasound, which was interpreted as normal. No follow-up ultrasound was requested or performed. At no time during the pregnancy did the FP perform a maternal alfa fetal protein (AFP) blood test to detect spinal bifida. The woman's daughter was ultimately born with a 5 cm neural tube defect at L3. According to the woman's attorney, the FP's attorneys indicated that the ultrasound was an acceptable substitute for the AFP test. A medQuest radiologist specializing in reading ultrasounds reported that the initial films were inadequate for diagnosing a neural tube defect, which would have been diagnosed by a high-resolution ultrasound. The potential liability rested solely with the FP, who never communicated his failure to perform the AFP test to the radiologist.

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