Study: On-call radiology residents make top-notch decisions

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Well-trained residents, regardless of their year of training, can interpret imaging studies while on overnight call safely and with minimal discrepancy rates, according to a recent study in the September issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology, published by the American Roentgen Ray Society.

The study consisted of a review of approximately 12,000 emergency diagnostic imaging exams that were interpreted after hours by residents over a three-year period.

“In the midst of our research, a vigorous national debate began concerning the appropriate stage of radiology resident training prior to independent call, said Richard Ruchman, MD, lead author of the study. “Our study examined the discrepancy rate by year of training, and attempted to answer the question whether it was safe for first year residents to take independent call with faculty back up,” he said.

The study showed that the major discrepancy rate was 2.6 percent. A significant negative clinical effect of a discrepancy was only found in 0.3 percent.

“This discrepancy rate is comparable to the discrepancy rates of the attending radiologists in our program,” Ruchman noted.

“The results of our study demonstrate that well-trained and supervised residents at all levels can interpret imaging studies safely. The rate of significant adverse consequences was miniscule and, in fact, was not greater for residents in the early years of training,” said Ruchman.

Radiologists at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, N.J., conducted the study.