Wearing a face mask may increase dictation errors in radiology reports



To draw their conclusions, the team tasked the rads to dictate the verbatim content of 40 model reports on two occasions, including once with a mask. This resulted in 80 dictations for each individual and 480 in total in the study group. Mervak ​​et al. then measured these new dictations against the template reports and calculated the frequency of errors.

Unmasked radiologists recorded about 21.7 errors per 1,000 words, according to the study, compared to 27.1 in the masked group. However, 1 of 6 participants was a rad resident with an accent who recorded a higher error rate. Removing this person from the study dropped the masked error rate to 20.1 per 1,000 from 16.9 without a face covering (a difference of 19%). Bad word errors were somewhat higher among the masked group of five participants, while other types of dictation errors did not occur at a significantly higher clip. Meanwhile, error rates appeared to be higher for MRI and X-ray compared to CT scan.

The majority of errors were rated as “clinically significant”, often resulting from a single replaced word.

“The additional errors resulting from wearing the mask should therefore also be minor,” said the authors. “On the one hand, minor errors are annoying in that they can affect the perceived quality of radiology reports, including from a forensic point of view, or put undue pressure on the reader when reading. evaluation of the results of a radiological study… On the other hand, minor errors errors generally have no impact on patient care, making them much less clinically important than moderate or severe errors .


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