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Minerva Medicolegale 2012 December;132(4):233-7

language: Italian

Medico-legal implications of short-term mammographic follow up

Olivetti L. 1, Tira A. 1, Bodini M. 1, Pescarini L. 2

1 Unità Operativa di Radiologia Azienda Ospedaliera Istituti Ospitalieri di Cremona, Cremona, Italia;
2 Unità Operativa di Senologia Istituto Oncologico Veneto IRCCS Dipartimento di Scienze Oncologiche e Chirurgiche, Università degli Studi di Padova Padova, Italia


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BI-RADS category 3 (probably benign findings) suggests short interval follow-up. A small percentage of these lesions (up to 2%) will prove to be malignant. Therefore, there is the possibility of a delay in the diagnosis of breast cancer, with malpractice implications related to reduced treatment chances. We present one case which, although not received by the courts, led to a complaint to Court for patients’ rights. Also on the basis of that experience we develop some considerations on the radiologist’s risk in recommending short-interval follow up mammography rather than immediate biopsy. The application of BI-RADS category 3 should be restricted only to cases where, after a multimodal diagnostic approach and evaluation of risk factors, the radiologist is “reasonably sure” that the lesion has no possibility to evolve towards malignancy.

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