gavel_lawIncidental Findings: To Report or Not, That Is the Legal Question

By C.A. Wolski

Attendees of RSNA have the opportunity to consider firsthand one of the consequences of the tremendous advances in imaging technology. A mock jury trial will present a case in which an incidental finding later develops into a cancer.

“This is a very timely issue right now,” said Leonard Berlin, MD, FACR, professor of radiology at Rush University and the University of Illinois, Chicago. “With the technology of CT and MRI, and the resolution is improving and improving, we’re seeing very tiny densities that we have never seen before; 5 or 10 years ago, we would have never seen it. The mock trial will be about a woman who came in for another reason and a small lesion is detected in the pancreas, which has all the criteria of being benign.”

As a result, the radiologist is sued for not reporting it.

Jonathan Berlin, MD, clinical professor of radiology at NorthShore University Health System, Evanston, Ill, will play the role of the mock physician defendant. “The trial is about recommendations radiologists give for follow-up exams regarding incidental findings,” he said. “The trial focuses on how in the future there’s going to be a great emphasis in figuring out how we’re going to use the technology that we have instead of just adding newer and newer technology without thinking about how it is used and how it fits into medical care. It really fits into an overall paradigm of utilizing what we already have.”

Leonard Berlin has organized four of these mock trials over the years, each dealing with a pressing diagnostic-legal issue facing radiology today. To add an additional level of drama to the proceedings, the mock trial features real attorneys, a judge, and expert witnesses. Instead of choosing the jury from RSNA attendees, it is made up of nonmedical members.

Once the trial concludes, attendees will hear the deliberations live, giving insight into how a nonmedical, nonexpert person perceives the issue at hand.

The Mock Trial will take place on Sunday, November 30, from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm in S406A.