Rationale and objectives: Radiologists have traditionally left relaying exam results to patients in the hands of clinicians. Recent editorials have reexamined radiologists' traditional position and questioned whether radiologists should continue to remain within the confines of the reading room or increase their contact with patients. The present study addressed this issue by surveying patients directly regarding their preferences.
Materials and methods: A survey was given to all patients aged ≥ 21 years undergoing outpatient magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomographic examinations at an academic medical center and at an associated outpatient center. Responses were anonymous. Surveys were provided over a 4-week period in February and March 2011; 237 were returned.
Results: The majority of patients (73%-77%) continue to prefer the practice model already established, regardless of whether the results are normal or abnormal. However, the same percentage of patients preferred to hear the results of their exams from the experts interpreting the exams. The discrepancy in these results is likely reflected in the fact that there is persistent confusion as to the role of radiologists. Although most patients correctly defined a radiologist as a physician, 40% believed that a radiologist is a technician or a nurse. A large percentage of patients (64%) responded positively to wanting to meet the radiologists interpreting their exams.
Conclusions: As radiologists, we need to reevaluate the established model of communication for reporting radiology results and consider the positive impact on patient care, and on the vitality of the radiology profession, of directly communicating with patients.
Copyright © 2012 AUR. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.