Unread Second-Opinion Radiology Reports: A Potential Waste of Health Care Resources

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2020 Oct;215(4):934-939. doi: 10.2214/AJR.19.22662. Epub 2020 Aug 12.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this study was to investigate how frequently second-opinion radiology reports are not read by clinicians and to identify reasons why reports are not read. MATERIALS AND METHODS. This retrospective study included 4696 consecutive second-opinion reports of external imaging examinations that were authorized by subspecialty radiologists at a tertiary care institution over a 1-year period. RESULTS. Of 4696 second-opinion reports, 537 were not read by a clinician, corresponding to a frequency of 11.4% (95% CI, 10.6-12.3%). On multivariate logistic regression analysis, five variables were significantly and independently associated with the second-opinion report not being read: inpatient status (odds ratio [OR], 163.26; p < 0.001), sonography as the imaging modality (OR, 5.07; p = 0.014), surgery (OR, 0.18; p < 0.001) or neurology (OR, 2.82; p < 0.001) as the requesting clinician's specialty, and interventional radiology as the subspecialty of the radiologist who authorized the second-opinion report (OR, 3.52; p = 0.047). We found no significant independent associations between the clinician not reading the second-opinion report and patient age, patient sex, or time between submission of the second-opinion request and finalization of the report. CONCLUSION. A considerable proportion of second-opinion reports are not read by clinicians, which represents an appreciable but potentially reversible waste of health care resources. The reasons why clinicians do not read reports need to be investigated in future studies. If subspecialty radiologists and clinicians take the proven determinants into account, the amount of second-opinion readings with limited additional clinical value may be reduced.

Keywords: diagnostic imaging; health information exchange; referral and consultation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Radiography*
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography
  • Young Adult