Radiologists have a duty to communicate their reports effectively to clinicians

EMBARGO: 00:01H (London time) Friday February 3, 2006. In North America the embargo lifts at 18:30H ET Thursday February 2, 2003.

It is a radiologist's responsibility to make sure critical reports are communicated to clinicians, state the authors of a Viewpoint in this week's issue of The Lancet.

Delayed communication is a major cause of radiological litigation in the USA, and legal rulings place great responsibility on radiologists. Many UK radiologists believe their duty of care ends when a timely and accurate report is issued, write Conall Garvey and Sylvia Connolly from the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, UK. However, the authors argue that many radiology reports are not communicated effectively and radiologists are in the best position to address this problem.

Dr Garvey and Dr Connolly state: "A large UK department will typically produce 150 000 to 300 000 reports every year. Radiologists, with their expertise and wide clinical knowledge, are ideally placed to identify clinically important reports. Effective communication of critical radiology reports can only enhance patient care."

An accompanying editorial by The Lancet states: "Remarkable as it may seem, there are radiologists apparently content to discover urgent medical problems, and then file these discoveries away without mentioning them to anyone, least of all their patients. Unsurprisingly, the result is often an unnecessarily bad outcome for the patient, and a costly law suit for the radiologist."

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See also accompanying Comment.

Contact: Dr Conall J. Garvey, Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Prescot Street Liverpool, L7 8XP, UK. T) 151-706-2915, conall.garvey@rlbuht.nhs.uk


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