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Fallopian tube removed in wrong diagnosis

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/05/2017

A sonographer has been told to apologise to a then 19-year-old woman who had a fallopian tube removed because of an incorrect diagnosis.

The woman was referred for an ultrasound in 2015 after a positive pregnancy test and was told by a trainee sonographer she had a live ectopic pregnancy - a pregnancy outside the uterus - in her right fallopian tube.

While a second scan - with a supervising sonographer present - didn't seem to support that diagnosis, the supervising sonographer accepted the trainee's initial findings.

The woman was taken for urgent surgery and had her right fallopian tube removed, only to later be told her pregnancy was actually normal.

"Even though I did not lose my baby in the end, I lost a piece of [my] body and my spirit," she told the Health and Disability Commission.

"I could not talk to my family or friends about it for weeks, especially in that week in between the surgery and the blood tests because I would break down," she said.

She subsequently gave birth to a health baby.

In a report released on Monday, Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill was critical of the supervising sonographer for thinking the images from the second scan were not convincing, but not taking any further action to follow it up.

"Mr Hill acknowledged that the trainee sonographer misinterpreted the scan, but this was mitigated by the fact that she was a trainee at the time and appropriately extended the examination and consulted her supervisor," his office said.

But he said based on the information on hand, the correct decision had been made to go ahead with the surgery.

The trainee sonographer and supervising sonographer apologise to the woman and has called for the work of the two staff members and a radiologist over the past 12-months be peer reviewed.

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