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Int J Nurs Stud. 2014 Apr;51(4):549-54. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2013.08.001. Epub 2013 Aug 21.

The accuracy of adult limb radiograph interpretation by emergency nurse practitioners: A prospective comparative study.

Author information

  • 1Florence Nightingale School of Nursing & Midwifery, King's College London, London, UK. Electronic address:
  • 2Alfred Emergency & Trauma Centre, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.
  • 3Department of Radiology, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.



One of the extensions to practice for the emergency nurse practitioner role is to appropriately order and interpret radiographs in the emergency department.


The aim of the study was to compare the accuracy in interpreting isolated adult limb radiographs between emergency nurse practitioners and emergency physicians.


A prospective comparative study was undertaken.


Emergency department in a large metropolitan hospital.


200 adult patients with isolated limb injuries were consented.


Six emergency nurse practitioners and ten emergency physicians participated. One emergency physician and emergency nurse practitioner independently clinically assessed each patient, determined the need for radiograph and separately recorded their interpretation of the radiograph as either definite fracture, no fracture or possible fracture. A single consultant radiologist reviewed each radiograph and their interpretation was seen as the gold standard. The sensitivity and specificity of emergency physicians and emergency nurse practitioners were calculated. To measure the level of agreement between the two-clinician groups, the weighted Kappa statistic was used.


The sensitivity for the emergency nurse practitioners was 91% and 88% for the emergency physicians. The specificity for the emergency nurse practitioners was 85% and for the emergency physicians 91%. The weighted Kappa on the presence of a fracture between the emergency nurse practitioners and emergency physicians was 0.83.


This study validates the clinical and diagnostic skills of emergency nurse practitioners assessed in the interpretation of isolated adult limb injury radiographs.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Emergency nurse practitioner; Emergency physician; Quality; Radiographic interpretation

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