Thursday, June 17, 2010

Normal Echocardiogram Reading Error Rate 0.2% - By Technicians

In a "study" that is unlikely to ever be repeated again, we find that echocardiogram technicians are pretty good at screening normal echos, and have, according to credentialed cardiologists, a 0.2% reading error rate:
Harlem Hospital Center has completed an investigation of 7,000 heart tests going back five years, most of which had never been reviewed by doctors, a spokeswoman for the hospital said on Wednesday.

The investigation found that 14 patients might have been misdiagnosed because their tests had not been handled properly, said the spokeswoman, Ana Marengo. Twelve of the patients had been contacted, and none of them were found to have suffered adverse effects from the failure to properly read their tests, Ms. Marengo said."
Recall that the echocardiogram technicians were only sending abnormal tests for cardiologists to review, and only presumed normal tests were never read (or signed) by a certified cardiologist.

I wonder what the "normal" echocardiogram reading error rate is for board-certified cardiologists?



Anonymous said...

Begs the question of the denominator. In the modern landscape where so many are low probability of abnormality but ordered for CYA purposes you could probably make a pretty good rate calling everything normal!

Anonymous said...

would you ever expect to see an echo EF reading of 45% followed by a MUGA testing that resulted in a 78% EF reading?

DrWes said...

Happens all the time: do an echo in afib and the walls move with less coordination, then do a MUGA in sinus and see the EF magically "normalize."