Primary care docs want to deliver imaging results themselves

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Ordering physicians prefer to deliver the results of imaging exams to their patients and also feel obligated from a legal and medical standpoint to follow the recommendations in those reports, according to a study published in the February issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.|

For purposes of the study, the researchers distributed an online survey to 229 primary care physicians, receiving 100 responses. Ninety-five percent of the respondents said they felt that the most appropriate way for patients to learn the results of an imaging exam was from the ordering physician; the other 5 percent thought the best way was for the patients to access the results themselves through an online portal.

In addition, 94 percent of the respondents said they felt medico-legally obligated by the radiologist's recommendations in the radiology report, although 58 percent said the felt less obligated if there was qualifying language in the report.

"Radiologists should consider these factors when contemplating changes in reporting practices," lead author Andrew Gunn, M.D., of the department of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said in an announcement.

Overall, 79 percent of the respondents were either "very satisfied" or "somewhat satisfied" with radiology reporting and the respondents consider diagnostic accuracy to be the most important part of the radiology report. Too many recommendations for further testing or treatment were considered to be the biggest problems in the reports, followed by unclear or nonspecific language.

"Continuing improvements in radiology reporting practices are essential to the service that radiologists provide to patients and referring physicians," the authors concluded. "These improvements, however, should consider the preferences of both patients and referring physicians to optimize care. Future research, such as patient focus groups, patient satisfaction surveys, and surveying other medical specialties, is necessary to better delineate and understand these preferences."

To learn more:
- see the study
- read the announcement

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