Opinion: Radiographers must not read chest x-rays

2018 06 11 18 03 8300 Larici Anna Rita 20180611183525

I have read with interest the article published on AuntMinnieEurope.com on 7 May 2018, titled "Radiographers read chest x-rays as well as radiologists," which reports on the study by Nick Woznitza, PhD, published in Acacdemic Radiology on 30 April.

On behalf of Prof. Roberto Grassi, president elect of the Italian Society of Medical Radiology (SIRM), I would like to express my opinion as the president of the Italian College of Thoracic Radiology of the SIRM.

Dr. Anna Rita Larici. Image courtesy of SIRM.Dr. Anna Rita Larici. Image courtesy of SIRM.

For some time now, there have been several attempts to question the expert knowledge of radiologists. This tendency, however, clashes with the factual reality of a totally opposite situation: Radiologists have, in the clinical field, a central and fundamental role in almost all diagnostic processes.

Our discipline is able to meet this challenge because the specialist in radiology is first and foremost a physician. He or she attends complex and specific academic and training courses, which in Italy take as long as 10 years, and expresses his/her background of medical knowledge in qualified radiological reports in the daily practice.

Radiologists who carry out the medical report take several aspects into account from the justification of the request, to the appropriateness of the radiological examination based on the patient's clinical information, to the interpretation of the examination itself.

It's unacceptable that radiographers, who do not receive the same training as radiologists, can report in clinical practice a radiological examination such as a chest x-ray, which is difficult to interpret even for experienced thoracic radiologists.

It should also be noted that radiographers in Italy respond to a precise definition of their responsibilities and professional skills (see e.g., positioning document of the National Federation of TSRM-PSTRP Orders, with respect to the European Euratom Directive No. 59 of 2013), which are distinct from those of the radiologists and do not include the act of reporting.

The solution to the problem of "busy departments" underlined in the article published on AuntMinnieEurope.com cannot be to involve radiographers in the act of reporting examinations that radiologists are actually responsible for.

In short, despite the interest aroused by studies such as that of Dr. Woznitza, they have no relevance in clinical practice. We should attempt no sharing of tasks between radiology technicians and radiology specialists, whose competences are already regulated and subscribed.

Dr. Anna Rita Larici is president of the SIRM's subspecialty group of thoracic radiology.

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