Experience Counts

Don't be fooled into thinking that the radiologist on-site is an expert in all the studies that are performed in that imaging facility.  Let alone think that he/she is actually the one interpreting the study (many times the study is sent remotely to some other radiologist - with some of them based out in international locations).

As such, before you head to the facility ask them what the radiologist's experience is regarding the specific study you will be having done.  For example, a recent study says that radiologist that spend 20% or more of their time interpreting mammograms are more likely to detect breast cancer than those who spend less than that time.

Let's dig deeper into those numbers.  This means that a radiologist that interprets studies for 50 hours a week must spend at least 10 of them interpreting mammograms.  So its very simple, if you are going to have a mammogram done, call the facility and find out how many hours the radiologist spends interpreting studies and how many of those hours he/she spends interpreting mammograms.  By the way, keep in mind that a radiologist has many more tasks that simply interpreting, so because he is on site for 50 hours it does not mean he spent all 50 of them interpreting.  Therefore, be very specific with your question:

"How many hours is your radiologist interpreting studies and how many of those hours is he/she spending on mammograms/CTs/MRs/X-Rays/ultrasound/PET/etcetera?

For example, the radiologist could be spending only 30 of those hours interpreting while spending 20 hours doing interventional studies like fluoroscopy.

By the way, related to experience, a study indicates that you will receive less radiation from a senior radiologist than from a junior radiologist when having a fluoroscopy study performed.  If that doesn't drive the point home that you should ask for the qualifications of your healthcare provider then nothing will.


Experience Counts studies:

- Radiologist Experience and CT ("Therefore, we suggest that staging procedures for esophageal and gastric cardia cancer should preferably be performed in centers with technically advanced equipment and experienced radiologists.")

- Mammogram Readings Vary by Radiologist ("The differences weren't due to differences in patients so much as they were due to differences in the radiologists' experience and affiliation.")

- Patient Doses Dictated by Experience ("Collimation of the X-ray beam and shortening the fluoroscopy times by the senior radiologist considerably reduced the patient doses for interventional cerebral examinations.")

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