Missed acute appendicitis on multidetector computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging: legal ramifications, challenges, and avoidance strategies
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The failure to diagnose acute appendicitis (AA) is the third most common medical malpractice allegation related to gastrointestinal disease. There is a paucity of detailed data on this topic; however, publications by Whang et al and by Berlin and Berlin, which analyzed all types of malpractice suits against radiologists, have shown that the incidence of litigation has increased over time in the United States. This is likely true for cases of AA as well. The misinterpretation of cross-sectional imaging in patients with suspected appendicitis may be caused by suboptimal technique, errors of omission, i.e, missing key findings, failure to review a portion of the examination, and satisfaction of search error. This article summarizes the published legal, clinical, and imaging literature regarding litigation in cases of missed AA, and reviews optimized multidetector computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging protocols for the diagnosis of AA, with examples shown of challenging cases.
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