|The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) repository holds full-text theses and dissertations submitted for higher degrees at the University (including submissions from former Cape Technikon and Peninsula Technikon).|
The determination of the need for after- hours diagnostic radiological reporting in emergency departments
MetadataShow full item record
Introduction: After-hours diagnostic imaging is essential in the majority of large public hospitals, as it plays a vital role in the treatment and management of patients. Radiologists are not always available after hours to provide reports on radiographic images since, nationally and globally, there is a shortage of these professionals. Radiographic images are frequently interpreted by emergency physicians after hours. Thus, while diagnostic imaging represents an essential component in patient care (including management and treatment), according to the literature, a significant cause of clinical error occurs through the misinterpretation of radiographic images by emergency physicians. The aim of this study was to determine emergency physicians’ views on whether there was a need for an after-hours diagnostic radiology reporting service in emergency departments at some public hospitals, in the Durban Metropole. It is important to note that in addition to the above, this study calculated the number of radiographic examinations performed after-hours, and the number that was reported by the radiologist during office hours, since there was no radiology cover after hours. Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional quantitative survey design was employed using a self-administered questionnaire as a data collection instrument completed by emergency physicians at four public hospitals. In addition, additional data was collected to determine the number of radiographic examinations that had been performed after hours, at the selected four public hospitals over a period of three months, as well as the number of radiographic examinations that was reported on. This enabled the authors to determine the number of radiographic examinations that went unreported during this study period. Results: A total of 39 emergency physicians participated in the survey, with a mean and median age of 39.46 and 38 years, respectively (SD = 9.11 years). The results of this study showed that between 0.1% and 0.6% of radiographic examinations performed after hours were reported on by radiologists during office hours, for this study period. This implies that less than 1% of all examinations produced after hours at the four public hospitals, received a radiology report. Emergency physicians felt that the interpretation of images took up valuable time. The survey found that there was near total consensus amongst respondents on whether they prefer after-hours reporting to be performed by a radiologist as 46.2% (n = 18) of the respondents strongly agreed and 41.0% agreed (n = 16). Furthermore, a total of 35.9% (n=14) of respondents agreed and 43.6% (n=17) strongly agreed, that having a reporting radiographer reporting on radiographic images after-hours, would benefit patient flow. The survey also found that 92% of the sampled emergency physicians agreed (59.0% strongly agreed and 33.3% agreed, respectively) that there was a need for further training in the interpretation of radiographic images. Discussion: From the above results, it is evident that since the majority of radiographic examinations went unreported after hours, the task to interpret the radiographic images is left to the emergency physicians as part of their patient management. Conceivably, this added image interpretation results in a further increase in the workload of emergency physicians. It is therefore not surprising that emergency physicians preferred that after-hours reporting of radiographic images be done by radiologists. According to the literature, reporting radiographers also play a role in alleviating the workload of emergency physicians and improving patient flow, by providing a report for the radiographic images during after-hours. Thus, reporting radiographers afford emergency physicians additional time to concentrate on patient treatment, resulting in faster patient throughput. Reporting on radiographic images is not yet included in the scope of the South African radiographer. The findings of this study, though, suggested that there was a need for emergency physicians to undergo training in the interpretation of radiographic images. Conclusion: The study recommends that an after-hours reporting service be considered for the four public hospitals concerned. It is recommended that the heads of the emergency and radiology departments further consider offering courses on radiographic image interpretation for emergency physicians.