Reporting of critical findings in neuroradiology

Valentina G. Viertel, Stacey A. Trotter, Lukasz S. Babiarz, Fatma Alluwaimi, Paul G. Nagy, Jonathan S. Lewin, David M. Yousem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE. The objective of our study was to assess compliance among academic neuroradiologists in reporting institutionally derived critical findings. MATERIALS AND METHODS. We analyzed 3054 neuroradiology CT and MRI reports generated in 1 month. Reports were categorized by whether or not they contained a critical finding based on a previously established list. The reports were subcategorized by whether the reporting neuroradiologist flagged the report as containing a critical finding and whether the radiologist verbally communicated the critical finding to the referring clinician. Reports were divided into day or night categories and the frequency of critical findings for each time period was calculated. RESULTS. Of the 3054 reports included in this study, 301 (9.9%) had critical findings. Of those 301 reports, 233 (77.4%) were flagged and the referring clinician was called. Of the remaining 68 reports with critical findings, the reporting radiologist did not call the clinician about 35.3% of them (24/68). Of the 2753 reports without critical findings, 2658 (96.5%) were appropriately not flagged and the clinician was not called. However, radiologists called clinicians about 3.5% (95/2753) of the reports without critical findings and erroneously flagged 68.4% (65/95) of those reports as critical. A majority of the cases with critical findings were reported at night (55.1%) despite the fact that 67.2% of the studies occurred during the day. CONCLUSION. Compliance with reporting and communicating critical findings must be monitored. Calling clinicians to report noncritical findings may result in unnecessary interruptions in work flow for radiologists and referring health care providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1132-1137
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Communication
  • Critical finding
  • Neuroradiology
  • Quality initiative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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