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J Am Coll Radiol. 2010 Sep;7(9):715-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2010.02.009.

The impact of an early-morning radiologist work shift on the timeliness of communicating urgent imaging findings on portable chest radiography.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 55 Fruiit Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA.



The aim of this study was to assess the potential impact of staggered radiologist work shifts on the timeliness of communicating urgent imaging findings that are detected on portable overnight chest radiography of hospitalized patients.


The authors conducted a retrospective study that compared the interval between the acquisition and communication of urgent findings on portable overnight critical care chest radiography detected by an early-morning shift for radiologists (3 am to 11 am) with historical experience with a standard daytime shift (8 am to 5 pm) in the detection and communication of urgent findings in a similar patient population a year earlier.


During a 4-month period, 6,448 portable chest radiographic studies were interpreted on the early-morning radiologist shift. Urgent findings requiring immediate communication were detected in 308 (4.8%) studies. The early-morning shift of radiologists, on average, communicated these findings 2 hours earlier compared with the historical control group (P < .001).


Staggered radiologist work shifts that include an early-morning shift can improve the timeliness of reporting urgent findings on overnight portable chest radiography of hospitalized patients.

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