Quantifying the characteristics of unambiguous chest radiography reports in the context of pneumonia

  • Chapman W
  • Fiszman M
  • Frederick P
 et al. 
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Rationale and Objectives. The purpose of this study was to statistically identify some characteristics of unambiguous (ie, clear) chest radiography reports in the context of acute bacterial pneumonia. Materials and Methods. Seven physicians individually read 292 chest radiography reports to determine if they contained radiologic evidence of pneumonia. Unambiguous reports were defined as those that physicians unanimously classified as supporting or not supporting the diagnosis of pneumonia. Ambiguous reports were assigned degrees of ambiguity on the basis of how much disagreement they caused among the physicians. Characteristics of unambiguous reports as described in the literature were manually quantified and assigned to every report. To identify characteristics that statistically distinguished unambiguous from ambiguous reports, the authors performed an ordinal logistic regression analysis for which the dependent variable was the number of dissenting votes the report received and the independent variables were the quantified characteristics of the report. Results. Six independent variables were statistically significantly associated with unambiguous reports (P < .05). Three were positively associated: an interpretation of whether findings supported the diagnosis of pneumonia in reports with pneumonia-related observations, short sentences, and redundancy of pneumonia-related observations. Three were negatively associated: high use of uncertainty modifiers for pneumonia-related observations, use of only descriptive terms to describe pneumonia-related observations, and insufficient amount of pneumonia-related information. Conclusion. The most influential characteristic of an unambiguous chest radiography report was an interpretation of whether the radiograph supported the diagnosis of pneumonia when findings could be indicative.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Ambiguity
  • Quality assurance
  • Radiology report

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