Perspectives from the other side of the screen: how clinicians and radiologists communicate about diagnostic errors

Anna Lama, Jeffery Hogg, Andrew P J Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Miscommunication amongst providers is a major factor contributing to diagnostic errors. There is a need to explore the current state of communications between clinicians and diagnostic radiologists. We compare and contrast the perceptions, experiences, and other factors that influence communication behaviors about diagnostic errors between clinicians and radiologists. Methods A survey with questions addressing (1) communication around diagnostic error, (2) types of feedback observed, (3) the manner by which the feedback is reported, and (4) length of time between the discovery of the diagnostic error and disclosing it was created and distributed through two large academic health centers and through listservs of professional societies of radiologists and clinicians. Results A total of 240 individuals responded, of whom 58% were clinicians and 42% diagnostic radiologists. Both groups of providers frequently discover diagnostic errors, although radiologists encounter them more frequently. From the qualitative analysis, feedback around diagnostic error included (1) timeliness of error, (2) specificity in description or terminology, (3) collegial in delivery, and (4) of educational value through means such as quality improvement. Conclusions Clinicians and radiologists discover diagnostic errors surrounding the interpretation of radiology images, although radiologists discover them more frequently. There is significant opportunity for improvement in education and practice regarding how radiologists and clinicians communicate as a team and, importantly, how feedback is given when an error is discovered. Educators and clinical leaders should consider designing, implementing, and evaluating strategies for improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-53
Number of pages9
JournalDiagnosis (Berlin, Germany)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 28 2020


  • Clinical Competence/standards
  • Diagnostic Errors/prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Patient Safety/standards
  • Physicians/statistics & numerical data
  • Quality Improvement
  • Radiologists/statistics & numerical data
  • Radiology/education
  • Surveys and Questionnaires/standards
  • United States/epidemiology

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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