Do radiologists still need to report chest x rays?
- Dr P Mehrotra, Department of Radiology, University Hospital of North Durham, North Road, Durham DH1 5TW, UK;
- Received 7 December 2007
- Accepted 27 April 2008
Objective: Chest x rays (CXRs) are among the most difficult radiographs to interpret accurately. The aim of this study was to assess the ability of different grades and specialities of clinicians to evaluate a series of CXRs correctly.
Methods: 60 clinicians of different grades and from different specialities were randomly recruited to interpret 15 CXRs within 30 min. Radiographs included normal (n = 5) and abnormal images of common medical emergencies (n = 10). Non-parametric statistical tests examined for significant differences in the ability of different grades and specialities of doctors to interpret CXRs.
Results: Senior doctors (consultants and registrars, n = 32) attained significantly higher scores than junior doctors (senior house officers, foundation 1 and 2 doctors, n = 28, p = 0.001). Specialists (consultants and registrars in radiology and respiratory medicine, n = 7) achieved significantly higher scores than non-specialists (all other consultants and registrars, n = 25, p = 0.0002). In addition, senior radiologists (consultants and registrars) attained significantly higher scores than senior doctors from other specialities (p = 0.002).
Conclusion: To improve patient care, we suggest that all chest x rays should be reviewed at an early stage during a patient’s hospital admission by a senior clinician and reported by a radiologist at the earliest opportunity. We also suggest that structured teaching on CXR interpretation should be made available for newly qualified doctors, especially with the introduction of shortened training.
See Editorial, p 337
Competing interests: None declared.