Are CT reports transferred with trauma patients unreliable?

Sunday, November 27 | 10:45 a.m.-10:55 a.m. | SSA06-01 | Room N226
Radiologists from a level I trauma center wondered if the CT reports they were getting for patients transferred to their emergency department were accurate. Their six-month investigation didn't deliver much confidence in the original reads.

"Our study looked at over 600 CT scans of patients transferred to the Harborview Medical Center emergency department over a one-month period," said presenter Dr. Jeffrey Robinson, who is an assistant professor of radiology at the University of Washington.

In all, the study team compared 628 outside reports, two-thirds trauma and one-third nontrauma, with overreads from trauma radiologists in their own department, grading discrepancies in the two reports as minor or of potential clinical significance. Major discrepancies were found in almost one-fourth of trauma transfers and 6% of the nontrauma transfers.

"We found an unexpectedly large number of discrepancies that had the potential to be clinically significant," Robinson told, noting that trauma transfer patients were significantly more likely to have a major discordance than nontrauma transfer patients.

The finding makes the radiologists want to formally overread all CT and MRI exams of emergency department transfer patients, Robinson commented.

"Compliance issues remain a barrier to doing that, though," he said.

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