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The history of radiographer reporting
The issue of radiographer reporting of images is not a recent one. The debate surrounding the reporting of images by non-medically trained individuals has been rolling since the introduction of x-ray technology in 1895. In the very beginning of radiographic imaging there was no individual profession whose sole purpose was to undertake radiographic imaging and report on the resultant images. Amongst the individuals using x-ray technology in the early days were engineers, photographers, physicists and medical practitioners amongst others. However, individual professions were eager to lay claim to the sole right to use x-ray technology in order to forge a career and maintain a living. The fight to determine a profession who could lay claim to the ‘ownership’ of rights to undertake radiography and report on resultant images had begun. Two eminent groups had formed, the medical radiographer, known today as the radiologist and the non-medical radiographer, the diagnostic radiographer of today. The non-medical radiographer group still at this point included engineers, photographers etc whereas the medical-radiographer included only those individuals with medical qualification. The debate regarding the right to report the resultant images rumbled on through the early 1900’s into the 1920’s. Medical radiographers did not have issue with ‘lay-people’ undertaking the technical aspect of image production, however they sought to have the right to report x-ray images removed from the lay-people to ensure that the reports only came from medical professionals. In the 1920’s the Society of Radiographers was formed and for the first time, the professional group of radiographers was identified.
Many research papers have focussed upon the issue of radiographers reporting plain film radiographs, mainly analysing the accuracy of the reports generated by radiographers in comparison with radiologist reports. However, it is important to note that despite there being a lot of research available on the topic of radiographer reporting accuracy a lot of the research was undertaken by radiographers and published in low impact radiography journals. Therefore it is hard not to assume a level of bias due to invested interest in the progression of the profession. A number of the aforementioned studies have compared radiographer report accuracy against that of radiologist accuracy, accepting the radiologist report as the gold standard. However, why must the radiologist report be accepted as the reference for the analysis? In some articles, there have been incidences of radiologist error where the radiographer has picked up an abnormality missed by the radiologist. Therefore, the accuracy of results cannot be guaranteed if one of the variables being compared doubles up as the reference standard.
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