Impact on Quality When Pediatric Urgent Care Centers Are Staffed With Radiology Technologists

J Am Coll Radiol. 2018 Dec;15(12):1717-1722. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2017.12.018. Epub 2018 Feb 2.


Purpose: The proliferation of pediatric urgent care centers has increased the need for diagnostic imaging support, but the impact of employing radiology technologists at these centers is not known. The purpose of this study was to evaluate radiographic impact and quality at urgent care centers with and without radiology technologists.

Methods: A retrospective case-control study was conducted comparing 235 radiographic examinations (study) performed without and 83 examinations (control) performed with a radiology technologist at the authors' pediatric urgent care centers. Studies were evaluated for quality using a five-point, Likert-type scale (1 = poor, 5 = best) regarding field of view, presentation, and orthogonal view orientation. Studies were also evaluated for the incidence of positive results, need for repeat imaging, and discrepancies between initial study and follow-up.

Results: Imaging quality comparisons between study and control groups were statistically different for field of view (3.98 versus 4.29, P = .014), presentation (4.39 versus 4.51, P = .045), and orthogonal view orientation (4.45 versus 4.69, P = .033). The incidence of repeat imaging was similar (4.7% versus 2.4%, P = 0.526), as well as the discrepancy rates (3.4 versus 2.4%, P = 1.00). The incidence of abnormal radiographic findings for the study and control groups was similar (40.9% versus 34.9%, P = .363).

Conclusions: Radiography is an important triage tool at pediatric urgent care centers. It is imperative to have optimal radiographic imaging for accurate diagnosis, and imaging quality is improved when radiology technologists are available. If not feasible or cost prohibitive, it is important that physicians be given training opportunities to bridge the quality gap when using radiographic equipment and exposing children to radiation.

Keywords: Pediatric urgent care; image quality; radiography; radiology technologists.

MeSH terms

  • Allied Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Diagnostic Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Pediatrics*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Technology, Radiologic*