The North Carolina Medical Board recently reviewed a case where doctors and interns tried to induce labor on a patient, and then performed a Caesarean section, but found there was no baby inside the woman’s womb, Foxnews.com reports. Apparently an intern did an ultrasound before the surgery and could not find a heartbeat. It was at this time that the patient convinced doctors to induce her. The medical board said the intern did not have enough experience to make the “appropriate diagnosis.”
It was determined that the patient suffered from pseudocyesis, which is the medical term for “false pregnancy.” A person suffering from pseudocyesis may often have all the same signs and symptoms as a person who is actually pregnant, but there is no fetus.
While I accept the likelihood that pseudocyesis was the patient’s root problem, I am curious about the failed ultrasound. As father of three and grandfather of two I’ve seen a few fetal ultrasounds. Although I’m not expert enough to use them for diagnoses, I think even I could determine if a full-term fetus was there or not.
The desperate need for process improvement in healthcare continues to blare forth in the headlines. I may need to start a regular feature on the subject!