• Reducing image interpretation errors – Do communication strategies undermine this?

      Snaith, Beverly; Hardy, Maryann L.; Lewis, Emily F. (2014-08)
      Errors in the interpretation of diagnostic images in the emergency department are a persistent problem internationally. To address this issue, a number of risk reduction strategies have been suggested but only radiographer abnormality detection schemes (RADS) have been widely implemented in the UK. This study considers the variation in RADS operation and communication in light of technological advances and changes in service operation. A postal survey of all NHS hospitals operating either an Emergency Department or Minor Injury Unit and a diagnostic imaging (radiology) department (n = 510) was undertaken between July and August 2011. The questionnaire was designed to elicit information on emergency service provision and details of RADS. 325 questionnaires were returned (n = 325/510; 63.7%). The majority of sites (n = 288/325; 88.6%) operated a RADS with the majority (n = 227/288; 78.8%) employing a visual ‘flagging’ system as the only method of communication although symbols used were inconsistent and contradictory across sites. 61 sites communicated radiographer findings through a written proforma (paper or electronic) but this was run in conjunction with a flagging system at 50 sites. The majority of sites did not have guidance on the scope or operation of the ‘flagging’ or written communication system in use. RADS is an established clinical intervention to reduce errors in diagnostic image interpretation within the emergency setting. The lack of standardisation in communication processes and practices alongside the rapid adoption of technology has increased the potential for error and miscommunication.