Safety-Net Academic Hospital Experience in Following Up Noncritical Yet Potentially Significant Radiologist Recommendations.
AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2017 Nov;209(5):982-986. doi: 10.2214/AJR.17.18179. Epub 2017 Aug 4. Kadom N1,2, Doherty G1, Solomon A3, Close M3, Friedman S1, Gregson D1, Rostad BS2, Moses JM1, Norbash A1,4.
OBJECTIVE: In this retrospective study, we identified the types of noncritical recommendations radiologists issued over a 15-day period, the percentage of noncritical radiology recommendations that were not acted on or acknowledged in the medical records, potential causes for recommendations not being acted on, and the potential risk of harm to patients.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We conducted a retrospective review of radiology reports and patient records from January 1, 2014, to January 15, 2014, at a large tertiary academic center and regional safety-net hospital.
RESULTS: A total of 6851 reports were reviewed; 857 (13%) contained at least one noncritical recommendation, with 978 total recommendations. The two most common recommendations were additional imaging (63%, n = 615) and clinical correlation (23%, n = 229). The majority of radiology recommendations were followed (67%, n = 655), but 323 cases (33%) contained no evidence that recommendations were followed. Of those that were not followed, 39% (n = 126) had no documentation in the medical records of the recommendation being acknowledged. Of those, 32% (n = 40) had important findings, half of which (n = 20) could have benefited from a verbal communication (18 mass lesions, two instances of fetal death).
CONCLUSION: Radiologists' recommendations contained in written reports of noncritical findings may not be consistently followed or acknowledged in the medical records. Our study shows that a few report recommendations that were not consistently followed or acknowledged contained findings that referred to potentially harmful conditions. The results triggered an investment in systems improvement at the studied institution.