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Lymphoma and Pets
Reading PET scans at 70 mph
As though there weren't enough ways to be wrong, doctors reading medical images now have a new way to fuck up the quality of your health care: Mobile MIM, the first iPhone app FDA-approved for "viewing images [such as CT, PET and MRI scans] and making medical diagnoses."
How big is that iPhone display, about four inches by two inches? Perfect. Why have hospitals been wasting all that film making such huge pictures when all that was ever necessary was something the size of a baseball card?
The FDA clearly states that the app is "indicated for use only when there is no access to a workstation." There's no workstation in the car, on the freeway, at home, out to dinner, at the ballgame, in the bathroom—all the many places doctors will be viewing our films with this app. Why? Because they can.
Will you ever know that the mistake in your diagnosis was made by a radiologist who read your films while flying down the freeway or sitting on the toilet? Probably not.
Reluctantly, I can already see the following events unfolding:
-- One doctor will abuse the shit out of this luxury and make dozens of misdiagnoses with it because he wasn't paying enough attention, exposing widespread abuse of the app.
-- Similar apps will receive FDA approval until one goes too far, maybe it will claim to remotely perform a prostate exam.
-- Doctors will deflect criticism of diagnostic apps by playing the "We're smart and know better" card until it becomes impossible to defend. Then they'll throw up their hands and say "FDA approved, how should we know it wouldn't work?"
Apps are great for playing Scrabble knock-offs, not for making life-altering diagnoses.