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Study: Does a radiologist's speed impact their accuracy?

What happens if a radiologist reads an image quickly? Is the speed the result of expertise or does a quick read time increase a patient’s risk of diagnostic error? A recent study dug into these questions.

The study, published in the American Journal of Roentgenology, examined the amount of time a radiologist was given to review an image and the diagnostic accuracy.

Is this a novel concept?

This is not the first study into this question. Previous studies have found a connection between a short-read time and the physician’s “familiarity, experience, and subspecialized training.” However, other studies have found a connection to high accuracy and slower read times, noting the ability for a medical professional to take the time to pay careful attention to the image can translate to better patient care.

Why the mixed results?

Researchers with this study point to small sample sizes in previous studies to explain the mixed results. The larger the study, they argue, the more accurate the results.

What were the findings?

Ultimately, researchers with the study state that there was not a “credible relationship” between the speed of the diagnostic read and the accuracy of the physician’s finding.

What does this mean for patients?

Although the fact that these professionals are well trained may bring comfort, it is important to note that accidents happen. Unfortunately, a failure to properly read an image can result in serious consequences for a patient. The wrong interpretation, regardless of the reason, can result in a patient failing to receive needed treatment.

Patients who suffer serious injury due to a radiological error have options. Legal remedies are available. Contact an attorney to discuss your case and better ensure your rights are protected.

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