Article Text

other Versions

Download PDFPDF
Radiological misinterpretations by emergency physicians in discharged minor trauma patients
  1. Su-Jin Kim1,
  2. Sung Woo Lee1,
  3. Yun-Sik Hong1,
  4. Do-Hyoun Kim2
  1. 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  2. 2Department of Emergency Medicine, Korea University Medical Center, Seoul, Korea
  1. Correspondence to Su Jin Kim, Department of Emergency Medicine, Korea University Anam Hospital, 126-1, Anam-dong 5-ga, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul 136-705, Korea; icarusksj{at}


Introduction Unerring radiological interpretation is essential in discharged minor trauma patients without follow-up visits based on the rapid decision of emergency physicians (EPs). Misinterpretation may raise issues concerning patient care, reimbursement and lawsuits. The authors investigated the discrepancies and associated factors in radiological interpretation for discharged trauma patients between EPs and radiologists.

Methods The authors included trauma patients who visited the emergency department, from 1 August 2009 to 31 July 2010, and searched for cases showing discrepancy using the ‘modified quality assurance model for radiological interpretation’. The overall/clinically significant discrepancy (CSD)/clinically insignificant discrepancy (CinSD) rates were calculated. The authors also looked at the relationship between discrepancies and several factors including age and time of visit.

Results 10 243 cases were related to minor trauma, in which the radiological images were interpreted as normal by EPs. The overall discrepancy, the CSD and CinSD rates were 0.77% (n=79), 0.47% (n=48) and 0.3% (n=31), respectively. No discrepancy was shown to be related to the day or time of visit. The discrepancy rate turned out to be relatively higher with increasing age, and for injuries of the extremities. No associated factors were found between the CSD and CinSD groups.

Conclusions Despite a relatively low CSD rate, careful interpretation is recommended considering age and body areas imaged. A modified model would be needed as a supportive tool for training and improving the quality of care. A further development of the modified system for efficient use of resources will be needed to focus on quality improvement and education in each hospital.

  • Radiograph
  • interpretation
  • discrepancy
  • emergency physician
  • emergency care systems
  • emergency departments
  • imaging
  • management
  • quality assurance
  • trauma

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Korea University Anam Hospital Institutional Review Board (, which complies with the Declaration of Helsinki.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.