Radiologists Are Doctors Too: It’s OK to Act Like One

The post was contributed by Eric Callaghan, MD.

As a musculoskeletal radiologist, I’m accustomed to working with a variety of referring providers, but have increasingly found that my role as a subspecialized radiologist in the new health care paradigm is evolving. A recent phone call to one of our clinic’s pediatricians went something like this:

Me: “I’m looking at patient ___________’s films, and it looks like they have osteochondritis dissecans of the capitellum.”

Pediatrician:”Osteo-huh? Say that in English.”

Me: “Osteochondritis diseccans of the capitellum; it’s an abnormality at the elbow similar to what we see sometimes see in kids’ knees.”

Pediatrician: “Do they need to see ortho?”

Me: “Not acutely, but in follow-up, yes.”

Pediatrician: “Do they need to be immobilized?”

Me: “Not casted, but a sling should be fine for now until they see the orthopedist.”

I’m obviously not an orthopedic surgeon, and I don’t pretend to be one. But as specialized radiologists, we likely have more familiarity with some of the more uncommon entities than our primary care colleagues do, and we can provide valuable triage information for them. This can lead to less ‘urgent’ consults to our specialized orthopedists and more efficient use of everyone’s time.

That being said, no advice is better than bad advice, but if we are comfortable making accurate generalized recommendations for our primary care providers, it can lead to more efficient patient care and add value in the Imaging 3.0 model of care.

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