Pay off for both parents and radiologists after pediatric imaging consultation

Parents of children who undergo diagnostic ultrasound much appreciate face time with the radiologists making the diagnoses.

Moreover, when the interactions include immediate disclosure of exam results, these parents tend to experience greater satisfaction, less anxiety and deeper understanding of what pediatric radiologists do—to the benefit of radiologists as well as patients and parents.

Not surprisingly, the authors behind the study pointing out these conclusions state that, despite challenges such as time constraints and lack of patient-consultation reimbursement, their results “strongly support that radiologist consultation is the right thing to do and should remain a priority.”

Their study report appears in the October edition of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Led by Evan Zucker, MD, of Stanford University’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at the time of the study, the researchers surveyed parents who accompanied children receiving ultrasound for any outpatient indication.

The parents, 77 in number, were randomized to meet with their pediatric radiologist and could opt out of the randomization to request or decline consultation on their own.

Some 70 parents met with the radiologist—most doing so by direct request when given the choice—and answered the survey about the consultation.

Of these, 91 percent (64 in number), said they’d like a radiologist consultation during every visit.

Five (7 percent) preferred the consultation only on request, and just one parent did not want the face-to-face in the future.

Meanwhile, 68 percent (46 of 68 respondents) correctly described the radiologist's role before consultation. This jumped 20 points, to 88 percent, after the consultation, and the difference was statistically significant (p < 0.001).

The numbers were similarly supportive of decreases from baseline anxiety and increases in overall satisfaction.

The authors acknowledged their lack of an effective control group.

They also noted that their study did not assess effects on practice workflow.

However, in their lively discussion and conclusion, they point to their own firsthand experience providing radiologist consultation following all outpatient ultrasounds when requested by patients or family members.

“In our experience, consultation does not excessively increase radiologist workload,” they write, adding that “traditional workflow processes” sometimes do indeed slow up as consultations run their course. “Nevertheless, we are reviewing options for reorganizing our ultrasound coverage so that we can offer this important and valued additional service in all cases.”

Read the full report.