Purpose: The purpose of this study is to identify the extent of diagnostic error lawsuits related to pointof-care ultrasound (POCUS) in internal medicine, paediatrics, family medicine and critical care, of which
little is known.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of the Westlaw legal database for indexed state and federal
lawsuits involving the diagnostic use of POCUS in internal medicine, paediatrics, family medicine and critical
care. Retrieved cases were reviewed independently by three physicians to identify cases relevant to our study
objective. A lawyer secondarily reviewed any cases with discrepancies between the three reviewers.
Results: Our search criteria returned 131 total cases. Ultrasound was mentioned in relation to the lawsuit claim in 70 of the cases returned. In these cases, the majority were formal ultrasounds performed and reviewed by the radiology department, echocardiography studies performed by cardiologists or obstetrical ultrasounds. There were no cases of internal medicine, paediatrics, family medicine or critical care physicians being subjected to adverse legal action for their diagnostic use of POCUS.
Conclusion: Our results suggest that concerns regarding the potential for lawsuits related to POCUS in the fields of internal medicine, paediatrics, family medicine and critical care are not substantiated by indexed state and federal filed lawsuits.