The move comes in the wake of the general trend across the U.K. of more hospital groups shifting chest imaging reporting to radiologists during the pandemic, even though radiographers are available, wrote consulting Rotherham radiographer Nicholas Barlow.
"At Rotherham we wanted to ensure the reporting radiographer team continued to deliver the service," he noted. "The consultant radiographers worked closely with the clinical lead radiologist to standardize report format and provide a clear summary of the findings in relation to COVID-19 'atypical,' 'indeterminate,' and 'highly suspicious.' There have been no concerns regarding reporting quality whilst the team has provided this service."
The Rotherham radiographer reporting team has been restructured in recent years to handle increased volume and a demand for shorter report turnaround times, Barlow explained. The team includes two consultant radiographers, two experienced radiographers, and one trainee. Its efforts are assessed through a peer review system. Between January and March of this year, its report accuracy was 99.3%, he wrote.
"This reassures radiologists that the service is safe and effective, and, consequently, plain film reporting has largely been delegated," Barlow pointed out. "In 2019, the radiographers reported 82.5% of all plain films in the trust."
During the COVID-19 crisis, the team has increased its service, reading reports seven days a week between 8:00 a.m. and 6 p.m., with an average of 0.7-day turnaround time. The team is training its staff to perform portable x-rays on COVID-19-dedicated wards.
"One of the consultant radiographers attends the onsite morning meetings, which updates everyone on changes to protocol and keeps the reporting team informed about developments on the shop floor," he stated.
The team is also learning to report pediatric and neonatal chest and abdomen x-rays to increase its scope of service.
"In spite of the challenges to staffing and workload the pandemic has brought, we are still trying to develop the service and expand the team," Barlow concluded.
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