Radiology services in emergency medicine residency programs: A national survey

Robert A. Lowe, Stephanie B. Abbuhl, Agnieshka Baumritter, Colleen Brensinger, Kathleen Propert, Steven Horii, Harold Kundel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objectives: To determine who reads plain film radiographs, how quickly radiologists' interpretations are available, how many initial readings require correction, and how satisfied emergency physicians (EPs) are with radiology in emergency departments (EDs) with emergency medicine (EM) residency programs. Methods: A questionnaire was sent to the chairs of all U.S. EM residencies, asking about EM radiology services. Results: Of 120 sites surveyed, 97 (81%) responded. Respondents reported that, on weekday days, EM attendings or residents performed the radiograph interpretation used for clinical decision making at 66% of sites; on nights and weekends, EPs performed the clinically relevant readings at 79% of sites. Twenty-one percent of sites reported that no radiologist reviewed images before patients left the ED on nights and weekends. Only 39% of sites reported that all images were read within four hours on weekday days, and only 19% of sites reported readings within this time frame on nights and weekends. Median misinterpretation rates were reported as 1% on weekday days and 1.5% at other times. Overall, EPs were satisfied with their interactions with radiology at 63% of EDs. Conclusions: This study summarizes the perceptions of EPs regarding radiology services; the findings must be interpreted with caution, given the lack of external validation. Nevertheless, EPs report that many EM residency programs depend on EPs' interpretations of radiographs. Emergency physicians report that attending radiologists rarely read images on nights and weekends and that images are misread more frequently at these times. Although EPs were satisfied with many aspects of radiology, EPs expressed the most dissatisfaction with turnaround times and misreads.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)587-594
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Emergency medicine
  • Radiographs
  • Radiology
  • Residency
  • X-rays

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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