The Composition of the Radiologic Report


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Abstract

In order to understand and evaluate fully the composition of the radiologic report, an experiment was performed in which eight readers each read the same 100 chest radiographs. The reports were dissected into individual statements, each of which was analyzed for accuracy, statement type (descriptive or etiologic), confidence, and specificity. In addition, each report was evaluated for stylistic factors of succinctness, orderliness, and the use of supplemental comments. Detailed analysis showed the radiologic report to be a series of largely descriptive statements in which confidence level, specificity, and orderliness were associated with the presence of errors in film interpretation. These factors can serve as important markers for identifying error-laden films. The use of specific, etiologic diagnoses in these film readings was limited. The composition of the report was not related to the length of radiologic training beyond the first year of residency. The implications of these findings concerning report composition in light of present day radiologic practice and new, automated radiologic reporting systems were discussed.

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