Australian health service finds lapse in x-ray reporting

The Queensland Government in Australia said it has been asked to appoint an independent expert to review issues associated with plain x-ray reporting at Gold Coast University and Robina hospitals.

The board of Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service requested that Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg appoint the expert to work with them regarding concerns about a recent decline in the percentage of plain-film x-rays being reported on by specialist radiologists.

After plain-film x-rays are checked by a radiographer and then read by the treating doctor, another reading by a specialist radiologist is recognized as best practice, according to Queensland Health. However, that third step has not been happening in some low-risk cases at the two hospitals.

The report from the board identified 48,000 low-risk plain-film x-rays taken since September 2013 that haven't been reviewed by a specialist radiologist. Of these, 22,000 films have been prioritized for review; the remaining 26,000 studies are considered a lower clinical risk and will be reviewed after the priority studies, according to Queensland Health.

Two patients in the past with adverse outcomes have been affected by the lack of specialist review, the report also noted.

The review by a specialist radiologist will look for any secondary diagnoses, such as missing a secondary fracture or perhaps an enlarged heart, according to board member Colette McCool, who leads the committee overseeing patient quality and safety issues.

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