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Table 3 Comparison of advice to radiologists regarding communication of imaging findings

From: Enhancing clinician and patient understanding of radiology reports: a scoping review of international guidelines

 Royal Australian and New Zealand College of RadiologistsRoyal College of Radiologists (UK)American College of RadiologyCanadian College of RadiologistsEuropean Society of RadiologyHong Kong College of Radiology
Purpose of the reportNot discussed‘The purpose of an imaging report is to provide an accurate interpretation of images in a format that will prompt appropriate care for the patient’‘The final report is the definitive documentation of the results of an imaging examination or procedure’‘The effective transmission of imaging information from the radiologist to the referring physician constitutes the main purpose of the report’‘The written radiology report is the most important means of communication between the radiologist and referring medical doctor’‘..the written radiology report constitutes the legal record of the radiology investigation or procedure’
Length‘Reports should be as concise as possible while still conveying the information required….’‘Where there is a need for a long descriptive report, it should conclude with a short summary of key findings and their interpretation…’Not discussed‘The ideal radiology report is ….concise’‘A balance needs to be struck between a clear description of the positive and negative findings and the concentration of the reader’‘[The responsibility of the radiologist is to] '…ensure that the reports are….precise’
Templated or structured reporting‘Standardised examination/disease process-specific templates should be developed where they are likely to improve the quality of communication…’Not discussed‘Standardized computer-generated reports should be designed to satisfy the above criteria’‘Standardized computer-generated template reports (or other structured report formats) that satisfy the above criteria are considered to conform to these standards’‘[Structured reporting]…is more time efficient than dictation….has also been suggested to improve communication of radiology results…’Not discussed
Terminology—referring clinician‘…should use terminology with widely understood and commonly agreed meaning among health care practitioners.’‘The wording of the report is likely to differ when it is written to a general practitioner who may be unfamiliar with a relatively rare condition, compared with a specialist in that particular field’Not discussedNot discussed‘The wording of the report should take into account the expected level of knowledge and expertise of the referrer’Not discussed
Terminology—patients‘…bear in mind that a consumer may also read the report’‘Patients now have access to medical correspondence about them... This should be borne in mind in the wording and style of the report’Not discussedNot discussedNot discussedNot discussed
Accuracy‘Relevant imaging findings should be characterised as specifically as possible’‘….[the reporter] should be aware of the likely accuracy of the examination in that particular patient related to the published accuracy of the technique and its applicability to this particular examination…..’‘The report should use appropriate anatomic, pathologic, and radiologic terminology to describe the findings’‘Use precise anatomical, radiological and pathological terminology to describe the findings accurately’‘[The findings] section should include a targeted, systematic and comprehensive description of all abnormalities….the description should be specific…’‘It is …vital that the information contained within this record is accurate…’
‘Actionable reporting’‘Specific clinical questions asked by the referrer must be addressed….’‘A radiology report should be actionable and prompt appropriate care for the patient’‘A specific diagnosis should be given when possible….a differential diagnosis should be rendered when appropriate…’‘Give a precise diagnosis whenever possible… give a differential diagnosis when appropriate’‘The report may give suggestions for further action to be taken….these suggestions should be carefully considered…’[The responsibility of the radiologist is to] ‘…clearly document advice on further management or action, where appropriate’
Confidence and certainty‘[The report should] avoid vague modifiers such as “might be consistent with” and “possibly represents”’‘The level of certainty or doubt surrounding an imaging diagnosis should be clearly indicated in the report’Not discussed‘Descriptive reporting that offers no opinion, or guidance for the resolution of the clinical question should generally be avoided’Not discussedNot discussed
Clarity‘[The report should] use short sentences in preference to long sentences in prose reports and in the free text fields of itemised reports’‘The written report should be clear, and written in a way appropriate to the referrer's expected level of familiarity with the imaging abnormalities detected…..’‘Use of abbreviations or acronyms should be limited to avoid ambiguity’‘The report should be clear and concise’‘Observations should be as precise as possible, avoiding loose terms…’[The responsibility of the radiologist is to] ‘…ensure reports are …clear and precise’
Readability‘Clinical radiologists should review, edit and sign/authorise their own reports….to improve accuracy, clarity, readability, succinctness and logical order or examination findings, and their interpretation’Not discussedNot discussedNot discussed‘Long descriptions of limited use to the referrer should be avoided’Not discussed