Legal issues in emergency radiology. Practical strategies to reduce risk

Emerg Med Clin North Am. 1992 Feb;10(1):179-203.


Various joint commission and individual state standards affect emergency radiology practice and have legal implications. The ACEP has entered the burgeoning field of practice guidelines; fortunately, their practice guideline preparation system is arguably the most thorough in medicine at this time. This is of great importance to emergency physicians, because practice guidelines are not without their own potential legal, educational, and compliance problems. Trends toward cost-reduction through reduced radiograph utilization are a real phenomenon in all of medicine. It remains to be seen if costs can be reduced without increasing legal exposure. Excellent clinical guidelines are helpful to emergency physicians. The Massachusetts ACEP model, which appears to effectively blend closed claim data into practice guidelines, has built-in educational support and compliance incentives. This model may become a national standard in the future. Pediatric radiology risk management issues, such as the statute of limitations, have been discussed. Emergency physicians should be knowledgeable about the most commonly missed pediatric emergency radiologic diagnoses. Some aspects of common emergency radiology practice patterns are of relevance to a discussion of risk management in emergency radiology. Issues such as emergency physician radiograph interpretation responsibilities and follow-up systems emerge repeatedly in malpractice claims. The use of CQI strategies may prove helpful in improving practice patterns. Communication between emergency physician and radiologists is critical. Good communication requires the development of good rapport and should pay dividends in improved patient care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Documentation
  • Emergency Medicine / education
  • Emergency Medicine / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Emergency Medicine / standards
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards
  • Humans
  • Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
  • Malpractice / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Massachusetts
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Radiology / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Radiology / standards
  • Risk Management / methods