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Radiologists make more errors when interpreting CT studies at night

par John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | August 24, 2020
CT X-Ray

Of the 10,090 body CT studies, 9,610 were reviewed by attending physicians in the abdominal division. No difference in the error rate was found when evaluating this subset of cases, with 44 errors found in 2,164 day studies and 226 found in 7,446 night studies.

Patel notes that body CT studies are notoriously one of the types of studies in which more errors are made by non-specialists, and says one possible reason may be the function of the number of different organs that must be evaluated.

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“One important note regarding our study is that the over-reads were conducted by specialists in body imaging,” he said, “whereas the initial interpretation was done by a generalist (someone who had not yet completed subspecialty training) — in that context, evidence shows that specialists often find additional observations or understand the relevance of observations that are “missed” by a generalist, by virtue of having more expertise.”

While he and his colleagues did not study the potential of any tactics for reducing errors, his personal recommendations include “using a checklist approach, taking notes during the review instead of just keeping a mental tally, make all observations before starting the dictation (instead of just dictating as you are evaluating, which is what we tend to do during the day), and read the dictated report before signing it off.”

The findings were published in Radiology.

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