Whether these variations in coverage translate to uneven patient care remains unclear -- and must be investigated, said a team led by Dr. Robert Sutton of University Hospital Llandough in Penarth, U.K.
Sutton and colleagues conducted a telephone survey of radiology departments at 42 academic pediatric hospitals, assessing staffing models for interpretation of emergency department pediatric imaging requests. The survey elicited information about the timing, location, and experience of reporting radiologists for initial and final reads during weekday, overnight, and weekend hours.
The survey found the following:
- Attending radiologists were involved in interpreting pediatric imaging 100% of the time during the day but only 33.3% overnight and 69% on weekends.
- For initial interpretations on overnight shifts, 38.1% of the hospitals surveyed used residents only for pediatric imaging reads, and 28.6% used residents only for weekend shifts.
- Of the hospitals surveyed, 28.6% used teleradiology for overnight reads and 2.4% used it for weekend pediatric imaging exam interpretations.
- All of the survey respondents reported finalizing reports as soon as possible during weekdays, but only 52.4% finalized reports as soon as possible on overnight shifts and 78.6% on weekend shifts.
The fact that this interpretation variation exists -- and its potential effects on pediatric patients -- needs further research, according to Sutton and colleagues.
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