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Why You Should Talk To Your Radiologist

Offutt Air Force Base/CC

Patients rarely read the radiologist's report for common medical imaging tests, such as MRIs, CT scans and X-rays, or consult with their radiologist. That's because radiologists’ reports are written for other medical professionals and not for their patients. But including patients in the conversation can be good for health outcomes, says radiologist Dr. Rourke Stay, who runs a consulting service that offers second opinions on MRIs, CT scans, and other types of medical imaging. In this interview, he explains how participation from a patient can possibly help a radiologist get a better understanding of a patient’s conditions. Read more from Dr. Stay on how to interact with your radiologist, here.

Here’s an excerpt from our interview.

On why it's helpful for patients to get involved in discussing their radiology reports:

“The more patients have access to their reports and take ownership of the imaging that they have had, the better it will be for their overall healthcare outcome. Your doctor can take a complete history, he can do a complete physical, and he can order a test, but that test is still a single piece of information and it really needs to be pieced together with all the different aspects of the patient’s history. And really it’s the patient himself or herself that knows their history better than anyone else.

Often with complex medical procedures we see in very fine detail every organ and we often find little things that we can’t say with perfect certainty that there’s nothing to worry about. And in those scenarios we often say to do another test or if it looks particularly worrisome, to biopsy it or have it removed. The patient if they have ownership of their imaging, and they understand what tests they have had, will be able to add something to the report. When they know what imaging they have had and they know what has happened to them it can really clarify things.”