Effect of shift, schedule, and volume on interpretive accuracy: A retrospective analysis of 2.9 million radiologic examinations

Tarek N. Hanna, Christine Lamoureux, Elizabeth A. Krupinski, Scott Weber, Jamlik Omari Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine whether there is an association between radiologist shift length, schedule, or examination volume and interpretive accuracy. Materials and Methods: This study was institutional review board approved and HIPAA compliant. A retrospective analysis of all major discrepancies from a 2015 quality assurance database of a teleradiology practice was performed. Board-certified radiologists provided initial preliminary interpretations. Discrepancies were identified during a secondary review by a practicing radiologist or through an internal quality assurance process and were vetted through a consensus radiology quality assurance committee. Unique anonymous radiologist identifiers were used to link the discrepancies to radiologists' shifts and schedules. Data were analyzed by using analysis of variance, t test, or x2 test. Results: A total of 4294 major discrepancies resulted from 2 922 377 examinations (0.15%). There was a significant difference for shift length (P < .0001) and volume (P < .0001) for shifts with versus those without discrepancies. On average, errors occurred a mean (± standard deviation) of 8.97 hours ± 2.28 into the shift (median, 10 hours; interquartile range, 2.0 hours). Significantly more errors occurred late in shifts than early (P < .0001), peaking between 10 and 12 hours. The number of major discrepancies in a single shift ranged from one to four, with a significant difference in the number of discrepancies as a function of study volume (volume for all shifts, 67.60 ± 60.24; volume for shifts with major discrepancies, 118.96 ± 66.89; P < .001). Despite a trend for more discrepancies after more consecutive days worked, the difference was not significant (P = .0893). Conclusion: Longer shifts and higher diagnostic examination volumes are associated with increased major interpretive discrepancies. These are more likely to occur later in a shift, peaking after the 10th hour of work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-212
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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