U of U study: too many distractions may lead to mistakes for radiologists

Mar 19, 2018, 9:45 PM

In some hospitals the overnight radiologist doesn’t just read and interpret imaging scans, like MRI’s and Xrays, they are also in charge of manning the phone calls that bring in requests from other parts of the hospital.


“They have a really, really, difficult job and it seems like we are making it harder,” said Psychology Professor Trafton Drews, “If you are the only person there overnight then you answer the phone. It’s often from the E.R. and they have some pressing need to look at a patient. So you are looking at patient X and then you are interrupted by patient Y. It’s gets very confusing.”

Recent studies show in a 12 hour overnight shift, the radiologists are interrupted by phone calls an average 72 times. In the University of Utah study, Drews only interrupted his participating doctors twice. He said they managed to make accurate assessments of the scans, but it took them longer to do it.

“After they get interrupted there is a period of time where they are trying to sort of figure out ‘What was I doing before?’ and they are looking at everything but medical images,” Drews said.

His worry goes beyond time spent. Drews said with two interruptions their study doctors accuracy didn’t drop, but what about with 100 interruptions? Or the typical 72?

“Maybe we would have found a small decrement in terms of accuracy,” Drews said.

He said he hopes to continue his research to suss out the difference in accuracy and efficacy between doctors who are interrupted by phone requests and doctors who have someone screening phone calls for them.


Today’s Top Stories


free national park...
Aimee Cobabe

Lawsuit against Arches National Park after incident resulting in the death of a woman

A trial is underway after a woman was decapitated at Arches National Park. Her family alleges the park was negligent in not securing a gate that killed her.
1 day ago
Elizabeth Weiler

Middle schoolers represent Utah in national donation of quilts

The Homeless Memorial Blanket Project will provide nearly 500 quilts. Midvale Middle School is representing Utah.
1 day ago
View of a wooden Nativity Scene on display at the Christmas Market on the Main Market Square in Kra...
AJ Willingham, CNN

Nativity sets are getting a minimalist makeover

Brooklyn Swenson, an artist in Utah, says she drew on this inspiration for her brightly colored minimalist nativity set.
1 day ago
Pfeifferhorn Avalanche...
Alexandrea Bonilla

Utah Avalanche Awareness Week is underway

To promote safety while recreating at Utah's ski resorts, the Utah Avalanche Center is holding it's fourth annual Avalanche Awareness Week.
1 day ago
bomb threat Utah Tech...
Devin Oldroyd

Utah Tech student dies after falling from fifth-story balcony

A Utah Tech University student is dead after falling from a fifth-story balcony early Sunday morning. The death appears to be accidental.
2 days ago
This morning the Gary Sinise Foundation's Snowball Express made a pit stop at the new SLC Airport o...
Waverly Golden

Snowball Express arrives at Salt Lake City Airport

On Dec. 3 the Gary Sinise Foundation's Snowball Express made a pit stop at the new SLC Airport on its way to Orlando Walt Disney World. 
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
U of U study: too many distractions may lead to mistakes for radiologists