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Samantha Schmidt
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For Release: May 20, 2009


Side Discrepancy Errors in Radiology Reports Rare But Often Clinically Significant

Side discrepancy errors in radiology reports do occur and it is important that radiologists, referring physicians and patients communicate well to help prevent errors in clinical management, according to a study performed at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. “Side discrepancy errors refer to instances when the side of the lesion is incorrectly noted in one or more sections of the radiology report,” said Minal Jagtiani Sangwaiya, MD, lead author of the study.

The study included more than one million radiology reports. “88 side discrepancy errors were reported and 80% of those errors were rated as clinically important. The errors in mislabeling the side of the lesion were almost twice as frequent in female patients as in males. Mammography and radiography, followed by MRI and ultrasound were the most commonly reported techniques with mislabeling of the side of the lesion in identified errors,” said Dr. J. Sangwaiya. The errors noted in the study included those that had been corrected. The study does not account for unrecognized errors.

“While the incidence of side discrepancy errors is very small, most reports describing medical errors are self-reports or surveys and they almost certainly underestimate the incidence, perhaps by a factor of 20 or more,” she said.

“Radiologists should check for side discrepancy errors and physicians should correlate the laterality of the radiological lesions with clinical complaints and images as well. Patients should also discuss their radiology findings with their physicians, especially in light of their presenting symptoms and clinical signs,” said Dr. J. Sangwaiya.

This study appears in the May issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology. For a copy of the full study, please contact Heather Curry via email at hcurry@arrs.org.

Click here for abstract.

About ARRS

The American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) was founded in 1900 and is the oldest radiology society in the United States. Its monthly journal, the American Journal of Roentgenology, began publication in 1906. Radiologists from all over the world attend the ARRS annual meeting to participate in instructional courses, scientific paper presentations and scientific and commercial exhibits related to the field of radiology. The Society is named after the first Nobel Laureate in Physics, Wilhelm Röentgen, who discovered the x-ray in 1895. ###


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