Interpretive error in radiology

Stephen Waite, Jinel Scott, Brian Gale, Travis Fuchs, Srinivas Kolla, Deborah Reede

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVE. Although imaging technology has advanced significantly since the work of Garland in 1949, interpretive error rates remain unchanged. In addition to patient harm, interpretive errors are a major cause of litigation and distress to radiologists. In this article, we discuss the mechanics involved in searching an image, categorize omission errors, and discuss factors influencing diagnostic accuracy. Potential individual- and system-based solutions to mitigate or eliminate errors are also discussed. CONCLUSION. Radiologists use visual detection, pattern recognition, memory, and cognitive reasoning to synthesize final interpretations of radiologic studies. This synthesis is performed in an environment in which there are numerous extrinsic distractors, increasing workloads and fatigue. Given the ultimately human task of perception, some degree of error is likely inevitable even with experienced observers. However, an understanding of the causes of interpretive errors can help in the development of tools to mitigate errors and improve patient safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)739-749
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Volume208
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Bias
  • Computer-aided detection (CAD)
  • Error
  • Fatigue
  • Malpractice
  • Perception
  • Workload

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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