The Relationship Between Speed and Accuracy
A new study published in American Journal of Roentgenology investigated the relationship between the amount of time a radiologist takes to read an image and his or her diagnostic accuracy. Researchers from the University of Florida College of Medicine and Skokie Hospital performed a literature review, analyzing existing studies in order to better determine whether a radiologist’s speed might negatively affect a scan’s interpretation.
This question about potential trade-offs between speed and accuracy has been long debated in the radiology community. And, as the study authors argue, previous studies show mixed results on the issue. There are some studies that suggest factors like familiarity, experience, and subspecialized training will lead to both a faster read and a more accurate interpretation. However, other studies suggest that radiologists with the best accuracy tend to work slower, paying careful attention to aspects of each image before coming to any conclusions. Anecdotal evidence, based on practical considerations and relevant experience, is similarly mixed.
In reviewing the literature, the researchers found that existing studies have small sample sizes and are limited to a small number of imaging studies. Because of that, they conclude that it is difficult to generalize any sort of relationship between speed and accuracy, and as such, currently, there is no credible causal relationship between the two.