Dispute breaks out over radiographer reporting in the U.K.

May 18, 2010

Claims that cast doubt on whether radiographers should continue to undertake reporting of medical images has sparked a row between two professional bodies.

Claims that cast doubt on whether radiographers should continue to undertake reporting of medical images has sparked a row between two professional bodies.

A publication by the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) disputes evidence that radiographers who undertake image interpretation are more cost-effective and provide the same levels of quality and safety.

The document, ‘Medical image interpretation by radiographers: Guidance for radiologists and healthcare providers,’ says that these assertions are ‘unproven.’

The Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR) has described the RCR’s advice as “disappointing” and has responded with its own document, ‘Medical image interpretation by radiographers: Definitive guidance.’ In the foreword, the president of the society, Gill Dolbear, states: “Radiographer reporting is safe, subject to reporting radiographers and their employers/contractors adhering to our guidance.

“It is important that healthcare organizations continue to develop and deploy reporting radiographers to continue to meet the current and future challenges of delivering comprehensive clinical imaging services in the U.K.”

In its document, the RCR advises that ‘suitably trained radiographers’ should undertake medical image reporting only when:

 

  • A named radiologist, or another doctor responsible for the interpretation of medical images, has delegated the task, in keeping with guidelines set by the GMC.

  • An NHS trust or other medical service provider formally issues a contract empowering a radiographer or group of radiographers to undertake medical image interpretation.

The SCoR asserts that “radiographers make a significant contribution to the reporting workload and, as radiography is a regulated Allied Health Profession, are directly accountable for their practice, including reporting.”

The SCoR guidance also states that the organization has always demanded and continues to demand that radiographers must operate to the same standard as their clinical radiologist colleagues, regardless of the field they report in.

Gill Dolbear adds: “It is disappointing that the RCR have taken it upon themselves to pronounce upon the roles of radiographers. It is redolent of an era that passed one, if not two, decades ago. As the SCoR’s definitive guidance clearly states, the RCR has failed to offer any evidence to support their position and their document is based on opinion.”

For further information, contact Professor Audrey Paterson, Director of Professional Policy, at the Society and College of Radiographers, on 020 7740 7208. PDFs of both the RCR and the SCoR documents can be downloaded: here.