ARRS: Rads in the dark on patient costs, safety

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Radiologists rated themselves as less competent than other physicians regarding knowledge of patient imaging costs and patient safety, according to a study presented April 30 at the annual meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society in Vancouver.

Rajni Natesan, MD, of Northwestern University in Chicago, and Richard Sharpe, MD, of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, sought to assess radiologists’ level of understanding of broad healthcare system topics and their relative knowledge compared with other physicians.

The researchers emailed an online survey to ultrasound residency programs’ faculty and trainees and asked respondents to rate their understanding of healthcare policy, malpractice, quality assurance, patient safety and patient imaging costs on a five-point scale.

A total of 3,396 physicians responded, including 711 radiologists and 2,685 nonradiology physicians. Radiologists rated their understanding of patient imaging costs at 2.17, with a score of three considered competent in the scale. Nonradiologists rated their understanding of imaging costs at 2.32. Scores for other topics were as follows:

  • Malpractice: radiologists, 2.30, nonradiologists, 2.36,
  • Healthcare policy: radiologists, 2.43, nonradiologists, 2.33,
  • Quality assurance: radiologists, 2.57, nonradiologists, 2.62, and
  • Patient safety: radiologists, 3.10, nonradiologists, 3.33.

"We were surprised by the results. In a time of healthcare reform, radiologists need to be ambassadors of change and must be sufficiently knowledgeable to positively guide reform both for the benefit of patients and for the future of our specialty. Our findings raise concerns that we may be insufficiently prepared for this task," Sharpe said in a release.

The study is ongoing. "We hope to use this data as a self-reflection tool to demonstrate where we need to improve to prepare ourselves for the changes ahead," Natesan said.