Primary care physicians prefer to deliver radiology results to their patients, and they feel medico-legally obligated to follow radiologists' recommendations in the reports, according to a study published in the February issue of Radiology.
An online survey distributed to 229 primary care physicians was used to assess how family physicians felt about who should relay radiology report findings.
"There is considerable interest in improving radiology report practices," study author Andrew J. Gunn, MD, said in a press release. There have been suggestions that radiologists become more directly involved in delivering these reports and making their suggestions directly to the patients, but little was known about how primary care physicians felt about the matter.
"As radiologists propose measures to improve reporting, it is wise to obtain an understanding of the needs and opinions of referring physicians, particularly primary care physicians, regarding these measures so that their feedback and ideas can be incorporated into any change in practice."
One hundred physicians responded to the survey. The results showed that 95 percent of respondents were satisfied with radiology reporting and recommendations in general. None felt that radiologists should deliver the results to the patients. The majority, 94 percent, stated that they felt medico-legally obliged to follow the radiologists' recommendations that were in the reports. When the recommendations were set apart from the clinical impression, 23 percent of respondents felt more medico-legally obligated to follow them, while 58 percent said they felt less obligated if qualifying language was added to the recommendation.
Gunn acknowledged that more study needed to be done, including consultation with patients and other medical specialties. However, he suggested that as radiologists contemplate changes in reporting practices, the preferences of the primary care physicians should be kept in mind.