The continuing battle between the emergency department and radiology Print
Written by Cory Michael, MD | KevinMD   
Tuesday, 31 December 2019 13:31

I overheard a disappointing phone call while supervising a radiology resident recently. I could tell that the resident was struggling in a conversation with an emergency department physician, so I asked him to switch over to speakerphone. Eventually, I heard the emergency physician say, “Listen. This is how it works. A patient points to what hurts. Then I have that part scanned, and you tell me what is wrong.”

Disheartening as it sounds, patterns like these have worsened in recent years. I try to teach radiology residents and ordering providers alike what the most important imaging tests are given clinical concerns, yet the amount of information given to the radiologist declines, and the number of scans continues to grow while the payment for these studies has leveled off or decreased in some cases. I even find out that providers are sometimes dishonest in the history provided just to get a study performed. The county hospital I am affiliated with has a large number of patients who can’t pay. Not only does the system eat the cost, but many of these studies involve potentially harmful radiation.

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