Ultrasound Is 'The Best Way to Terrify a Pregnant Woman,' Says One Expert
WebMD News Archive
"I have no instance in my recollection where one or the other of these
abnormalities was the sole reason I was able to recognize a fetus with
Down's syndrome in a low risk patient," Filly writes. "Obviously
someone has had such an experience, just not me."
Filly, who performed his first ultrasound on a pregnant woman 30 years ago,
suggests that most parents may be incapable of comprehending the minuscule
nature of these risks well enough to be relieved of their fears, he tells
Asked about peoples' ability to comprehend the nature of such risks, and
doctors' ability to explain them, Shields says that at the medical center where
he works, "the patient is referred to one of the perinatal centers, and
seen by a specialist, and can have a follow-up consultation within 24 to 48
hours. ... When there's any doubt as to what's going on, the person should
probably be referred to someone who can explain." But he adds that many
doctors "have a difficult time saying, 'I really don't know what this
means, let's send you to someone who does.'"
Echoing Filly, Shields says that fear of malpractice contributes to driving
doctors to tell patients about soft abnormalities. "Misdiagnosis on
ultrasound is becoming one of the new [medical-legal] bonanzas. If you state
that [the abnormality] is there, you eliminate your risk."
"It is time," Filly writes, "for the American Institute of
Ultrasound in Medicine or the American College of Obstetricians and
Gynecologists to convene a panel of experts to analyze the data on this issue
and publish a position paper on the practicality of employing the Down's
syndrome 'markers' in low risk women at the soonest possible date."