Mythbusters: Radiology Edition

By Meghan Edwards

Mythbusters enewsletterThere are a lot of common misconceptions surrounding the imaging specialty. How can radiologists debunk these myths for both patients and referring physicians?

Every group of individuals has its own set of myths or stereotypes attached to it, and radiologists are no different. Here’s how to bust some common radiology misconceptions.


The Myth:
While most patients are aware that radiologists have something to do with imaging, they do not realize exactly what radiologists do or that radiologists have a medical degree plus years of additional training. In a recent study in the British Journal of Radiology, researchers found that only 20 percent of surveyed patients realized that radiologists interpreted scans. Most believed that a radiologist simply operated the machine that performed the imaging.

You know the answer to this already. You’ve been through years of training and education to earn your MD, followed by even more years of training in your residency and fellowship. However, your patients may not know all this, and that’s the issue. Not understanding the medical qualifications of a radiologist could impact your patients’ care — or their perception of care. Patients may be more likely to comply with medical advice if they understand that radiologists are physicians. Educating patients about the role of a radiologist can also build allies in influencing health care policy. So how do you bust this myth for your patients? Get your referring physicians to replay that message, suggest Cynthia S. Sherry, MD, FACR, medical director of the Radiology Leadership Institute®, chair of the department of radiology at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, and director of body MR and CT at Southwest Diagnostic Imaging Center. “If patients better understood how frequently their own doctors consult with the radiologist, then they might have as much respect for radiologists as their doctors do,” she says. “Since patients respect and trust their doctor, it would be very powerful if this message came from their own physician.”


The Myth:
Do a google search for “good careers for people who dislike socializing,” and radiology pops up on nearly every list. Because radiologists are not always directly dealing with patients, it is a commonly belief that radiologists spend all their time in a dark room reading images, neglecting to talk to others — and that’s how they prefer it.

Although any label on a group is inherently problematic as there are as many different personalities as there are people, this one may not entirely be a myth.

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