Informal Consultations Between Radiologists and Referring Physicians, as Identified Through an Electronic Medical Record Search.
AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2017 Nov;209(5):965-969. doi: 10.2214/AJR.17.18050. Epub 2017 Jul 20. Won E1, Rosenkrantz AB1.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study is to assess informal consultations between radiologists and referring physicians as identified through an electronic medical record (EMR) search.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The EMR was searched for physician notes containing either the term "radiologist" or "radiology" in combination with any of the following: "second opinion," "second-opinion," "2nd opinion," "2nd-opinion," "rereview," "re-review," "reread," "re-read," "overread," "over-read," "spoke with," "discussed with," or "reviewed with." A sample of 300 notes describing a consultation by a referring physician with a diagnostic radiologist was identified.
RESULTS: Of the consultations, 73.3% were related to a specific previously interpreted imaging study, and 26.7% were related to other general management issues, including patient safety. Only 18.7% of the physicians' notes indicated the name of the consulted radiologist; a fraction of these consultations were with a radiologist other than the one who originally interpreted the study or with a radiologist at an outside institution. Of consultations with a local radiologist regarding a specific prior examination, 33.9% resulted in a new finding, a change in severity of a previously detected finding, or a change in management recommendation. Of consultations with a change from the initial report, 24.6% were documented by the radiologist via an addendum; 92.9% of these addenda agreed with the referring physicians' notes.
CONCLUSION: Radiologists may be unaware of how their consultations are captured within physician notes that may be incomplete or misrepresent the communication. Radiology practices should consider developing policies requiring radiologists to document informal consultations potentially affecting patient management, while developing solutions to facilitate such documentation when it is not readily achieved through report addenda (e.g., through direct documentation by the radiologist in the EMR).