Communication with Patients in Radiology

This has always been a sticky subject.

As a rule, we are encouraged not to communicate radiology reports directly to the patient, but preferably through the referring doctor, who apparently knows better the clinical relevance of the findings. Hence typically we restrict ourselves to giving good news to patients, when their scans are normal, or lesions have improved, but prefer to hide behind the veil of “your treating doctor knows better”, when the findings will have a significant impact on the patient and his/her management.

Amber and Fiester have addressed this beautifully in the March issue of the AJR and taken this subject head-on. They are very categorical that “In this new paradigm, we argue that it is an ethical duty of the radiologist to communicate results to all patients who desire that information.”

I completely agree. If we want to stay relevant, then we need to interact with our patients more and more. This has already been happening with ultrasound, because, unlike in the US, we radiologists in India and similar countries directly interact with our patients while doing ultrasound and can’t escape talking to the patients and discussing findings. We need to take this ahead with CT, MRI and x-rays as well.

In the November 2013 issue, Dr. Saurabh Jha has a tongue-in-cheek letter-to-the-editor, which is also quite interesting and worth a read because of the reality check and practical questions he poses.


  1. I agree with u sir.and we just cannot escape their questions

    dr ketki consultant radiologist

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