Should you be referring your radiographic reporting? Claus OustrupFeatured Products Promotional Features
Posted by: The Probe 29th November 2018
Reporting on radiographs precisely is necessary in order to provide the best patient care. However, if there’s one significant downside to this diagnostic process it’s that it can take time and extensive training to be able to do properly – something that is often difficult to commit to for busy professionals.
Although time consuming, it’s important that professionals adhere to guidelines, as otherwise this could open them up to litigation. But have you considered referring your radiograph reports to specialist radiologists? Doing so can have a number of benefits…
Guidelines within the EU
The standards for radiograph reporting are different throughout the world. Because of this it can be confusing for professionals to know exactly what needs to be reported on in order to protect themselves from legal liability as well as ensure that the patient receives care that is truly tailored to their needs. According to the European Society of Radiology (ESR) there is no universally accepted definition of what constitutes a good radiology report,[i]and both radiologists and those that receive the reports will often think differently about what the optimal content of a report may be.
Professionals will be aware through their training that such subjectivity exists, and therefore it is their obligation to record their radiology reports as accurately as possible. This is expected by both the GDC and professional indemnifiers, and is also a legal requirement within the UK.
EU law applies, as does the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations, and the Northern Ireland legislative requirements of IR(ME)R (NI) 2018, with Regulation 12(9) stating, “…ensure that a clinical evaluation of the outcome of each exposure… is recorded…”. Clinical evaluations represent an important part of the required quality assurance and clinical audit elements. Hospitals and community dental services have their own protocols, but for independent dentists Regulation 25 of the General Dental Services Regulations (Northern Ireland)also places a requirement that “A dentist shall keep a full, accurate and contemporaneous record in respect of the care and treatment given to each patient…”. This would include the recording of the clinical evaluation of a diagnostic test such as a radiograph.
However, it is universally agreed that a report must be accurate and portray information that is pertinent to developing the best possible care plan for the patient.
The speedy route
As previously mentioned, reporting on radiographs can take considerable time. Whilst this may not be a problem for professionals who only take one or two radiographs on a regular basis, for those who take a high volume of images the associated diagnostic administration can often require time that could be spent doing other things such as helping more patients.
Referring radiography reporting removes this pressure, as often radiology specialists will be able to return reports to you in a matter of days, freeing up the time you would otherwise have spent creating the report.
Protect yourself from legal action
In recent years, the way that professionals and patients think about the law has changed considerably. Lawsuits and complaints against GPs and dental professionals have risen sharply, with numbers rising by almost ten per cent from 82,559 in 2015/16 to 90,579 in 2016/17 alone.[ii]Due to this increase it’s little surprise that professionals are afraid of legal action being taken against them. Some reports even state that 90% of dentists now fear being sued, and that 94% of dentists feel like it’s now much easier to bring on a claim of clinical negligence than ever before.[iii]
This has further effects on dental professionals as 81% of respondents claimed that knowing these facts affects the way they provide care. This makes sense considering that 42% of respondents had had a legal claim filed against them and a further 66% of them knew a colleague who had been involved in legal action too.[iv]
Therefore, it makes sense to take any steps necessary to protect yourself from possible legal action. Referring radiographic reporting to a specialist helps to abate the chances of lawsuits as you will have received an expert opinion and are therefore more likely to be able to identify any abnormalities or problems that a patient should know about.
This provides a safety net, so that if the question of legal action does arise, you will have evidence to support that you did everything in your power to provide the best level of care.
A streamlined solution
Referring to a specialist dental radiologist can have a number of benefits, however, finding a specialist can be easier said than done with less than 300 dental radiologists on a global basis.
Created to help dentists refer radiographic reporting with ease, PROPACS from Pro Diagnostics UK is a unique online cloud image storage system that also allows professionals to send radiographs to specialist dental radiologists for reporting. These reports take only 24 hours to turnaround and provide professionals with all of the information necessary to create the best possible care plan for the patient.
Ease the pressure
Taking radiographs is a necessary part of the diagnostic process, but that doesn’t mean that reporting on them needs to slow you down. By referring your radiographic reporting to a specialist you can save time, help safeguard yourself from legal action and receive highly detailed reports that will facilitate the creation of an effective care plan for the patient.
For more information, please visit www.prodentalradiology.comor email firstname.lastname@example.org
[i]European Society of Radiology. Good Practice for Radiological Reporting. Guidelines from the European Society of Radiology (ESR). Insights Imaging. 2011 Apr; 2(2): 93–96.
[ii]NHS Digital. Data on Written Complaints in the NHS, 2016-2017. Link: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/data-on-written-complaints-in-the-nhs/data-on-written-complaints-in-the-nhs-2016-17[Last accessed July 18].
[iii] ALLMEDPRO. 90% of Dentists Now Fear Being Sued. Are you Sufficiently Protected? Link: https://www.allmedpro.co.uk/90-of-dentists-now-fear-being-sued-are-you-sufficiently-protected/ [Last accessed July 18].
[iv]Dental Protection. 91% of dentists believe they are more likely to be sued now than five years ago. Link: https://www.dentalprotection.org/uk/about/media-centre/press-releases-display/2015/03/13/91-of-dentists-believe-they-are-more-likely-to-be-sued-now-than-five-years-ago[Last accessed July 18].
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