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How Can Radiology and Emergency Medicine Departments Improve Communication?

New research suggests that rifts between radiology and emergency medicine (EM) departments can be repaired by better communication. According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, a combination of surveys and meetings helped the radiology and emergency medicine groups at Baylor College of Medicine to achieve a more professional, productive relationship.

Groups of faculty members and residents from both departments started by developing a survey to anonymously evaluate behavior and suggest areas for improvement. Then, both departments discussed survey responses and possible solutions in intradepartmental conferences. These conferences revealed three issues central to improving relations between the two departments: communication, shared information, and misconceptions.

Kenny Q. Sam, DO, gives an example of a misconception corrected by the meetings. “There was frequent frustration among the radiology group regarding the demand from the EM department for ‘wet reads,’ or to prioritize certain studies from the emergency room,” he writes. “Unbeknownst to the radiology group was the pressure the emergency department was under for efficient patient throughput.” Once the radiology group understood that pressure, the EM group’s requests made more sense.

After the final conference, more than 94.8 percent of respondents said that the conferences “increased their understanding of the other department.” And 70.8 percent of respondents predicted that “behavior would be more professional as a result of the conferences.”

In future studies, Sam and his team hope to measure the impact of improved interdisciplinary professionalism on patient care and outcomes.

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