Study: One-third of radiology recommendations go unacknowledged

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In response to a September 2015 report from the Institute of Medicine detailing diagnostic errors in healthcare, including unacknowledged radiology recommendations, researchers from Boston University decided to see just how pervasive the problem was within their institution. 

The results of their subsequent research were recently presented at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society.

“Investment in information technology solutions and radiology staff dedicated to communicating and tracking radiology findings and recommendations could help minimize these risks,” the authors wrote in the presentation abstract. “However, hospital administrators may be reluctant to commit to these investments if risks are not clearly shown.”

The team set out to assess the magnitude of potential patient harm at their facility stemming from unacknowledged radiology recommendations. They conducted a retrospective review of 6,851 radiology reports, comparing recommendations to clinical charts to see what, if any, changes were made to the patient’s care.

Their results showed that of recommendations made in 857 radiology reports, 650 (67 percent) were followed, while 322 (33 percent) were unacknowledged.

“Our study shows that there is significant risk to patients from radiology recommendations that are not acknowledged by clinicians,” the authors concluded. “Investment in IT solutions and radiology staff dedicated to communicating and tracking radiology recommendations could minimize these risks.”