David Carradine, member of the Society and College of Radiographers, fills us in about the pressures of dealing with patients who want results before the doctor has seen them, as well as the benefits of new technology to the public.
‘Mr J was anxious to know what the image I was taking of his chest meant. His cough had not been resolved after 6 weeks, antibiotics hadn’t helped. I could see a likely tumour, but I knew, in spite of my suspicions, that I mustn’t divulge information. This is up to the clinician. All I can say is that the doctor will receive the images before Mr J has even returned to the accident and emergency (A&E) department, because everything is now digitised. Trouble is that because A&E departments are such complex and fluid environments, I could not definitively say how long it would be before he’d be seen by a doctor.’
David Carradine is a diagnostic radiographer and a member of the College and Society of Radiographers. He continually has to deal with anxious patients in situations where he cannot say how long it will be before they’re seen by a doctor. Nowadays delays largely occur because of hospital resourcing and management, rather than the limits of available technology.
Digital imaging has drastically improved patient care
According to David, the biggest change in the last 10 years has been the digitisation of plain film radiography: the move to IT-based imaging rather than the old x-ray plates. ‘This has meant space required for storing images is reduced beyond imagination. Accessibility to the images has improved tremendously so that the clinician can often see the image before the patient has returned to the clinic. This has a dramatic impact on patients’ overall time in attendance at hospitals. It also means we can’t lose films any more, which is a bonus.’
Appeasing patients’ worries
‘Mr J became aggressive when I couldn’t give him a definitive answer. I had to maintain my professional manner and treat him as anybody else, being careful not to be condescending or talk down to him. When I’d helped him back to his cubicle in A&E, his partner told him off for swearing, and he actually apologized at the end of it all. Sometimes these situations can end well, although they can be challenging.’
Edited by Professor Andy Friedman, CEO of PARN
First appeared in Newsweek, edn. 6 June 2015