The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations specifically mandates the dual interpretation of musculoskeletal radiographs by a radiologist in addition to the orthopaedist in all hospital-based orthopaedic clinics. Previous studies have questioned the utility of this practice. The purpose of this study was to further investigate the clinical significance of having the radiologist provide a second interpretation in a hospital-based pediatric orthopaedic clinic.Methods:
A retrospective review was performed of all patients who had plain radiographs obtained in the pediatric orthopaedic clinic at an academic children’s hospital over a 4-month period. For each radiographic series, the orthopaedist’s note and the radiology interpretation were reviewed and a determination was made of whether the radiology read provided new clinically useful information and/or a new diagnosis, whether it recommended further imaging, or if it missed a diagnosis that was reflected in the orthopaedist’s note. The hospital charges associated with the radiology read for each study were also quantified.Results:
The charts of 1570 consecutive clinic patients who were seen in the pediatric orthopaedic clinic from January to April, 2012 were reviewed. There were 2509 radiographic studies performed, of which 2264 had both a documented orthopaedist’s note and radiologist’s read. The radiologist’s interpretation added new, clinically important information in 1.0% (23/2264) of these studies. In 1.7% (38/2264) of the studies, it was determined that the radiologist missed the diagnosis or clinically important information that could affect treatment. The total amount of the professional fees charged for the radiologists’ interpretations was $87,362. On average, the hospital charges for each occurrence in which the radiologist’s read provided an additional diagnosis or clinically important information beyond the orthopaedist’s note were $3798.Conclusions:
The results of this study suggest that eliminating the requirement to have the radiologist interpret radiographs in the pediatric orthopaedic clinic would have few clinical consequences.Level of Evidence:
Level III—This is a diagnostic retrospective cohort study.