Analysis of lawsuits related to point-of-care ultrasonography in neonatology and pediatric subspecialties


Objective: Point-of-care ultrasonography (POCUS) is becoming increasingly available for neonatologists and pediatric subspecialists (PSS); however, concerns over potential litigation from possible missed diagnoses or incorrect management have been documented. This study aims to define the extent and quality of lawsuits filed against neonatologists and PSS related to POCUS.

Study Design: We conducted a retrospective study of all United States reported state and federal cases in the Westlaw database from January 1990 through October 2015. Cases were reviewed and included if either a neonatologist or PSS were accused of misconduct or the interpretation or failure to perform an ultrasound/echocardiogram was discussed. Descriptive statistics were used to evaluate the data.

Results: Our search criteria returned 468 results; 2 cases were determined to be relevant to the study objective. The two cases alleged a failure to perform a diagnostic test and implicated POCUS as an option. There were no cases of neonatologists and PSS being sued for POCUS performance or interpretation.

Conclusion: This study of a major legal database suggests that POCUS use and interpretation is not a significant cause of lawsuits against neonatologists and PSS.

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