Systemic error in radiology

Stephen Waite, Jinel Moore Scott, Alan Legasto, Srinivas Kolla, Brian Gale, Elizabeth A. Krupinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE. Interpretive errors in diagnostic imaging result in significant patient morbidity and mortality, but the importance of errors and process failures in the imaging cycle other than during image interpretation is underappreciated. In this article, we describe these errors and potential solutions, providing a framework to improve patient safety and understand the changing roles of radiologists beyond image interpretation. CONCLUSION. For comprehensive improvements to health care delivery, other failures in the cycle besides diagnostic interpretive error-such as ordering inappropriate studies, PACS failures, and a lack of accurate clinician contact information (with resultant communication failure)-should be recognized as contributors to patient harm because they lead to wasted resources and delayed care. By taking ownership of the entire imaging cycle, radiologists can increase their net worth to patient care and cement their roles as experts in the effective, evidence-based use of imaging technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-639
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • Appropriateness criteria
  • Error in radiology
  • Imaging cycle
  • Systemic error

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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