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Title: Knowledge, clinical competencies and medico legal responsibilities required by diagnostic radiographers for the interpretation of radiographs
Authors: Budhu, Reshel 
Keywords: Radiographers;Role extension;Image interpretation;Knowledge;Clinical competencies;Medico-legal responsibilities
Issue Date: 29-Sep-2022
In SA, image interpretation and reporting by diagnostic radiographers have yet
to be validated. Currently, the only training exposure and formalized education
that diagnostic radiography students get in the four-year undergraduate degree
relates to pattern recognition and pathological conditions However, a review of
the regulations on the scope of practice of radiographers is currently being
undertaken by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) to
include formal reporting in South Africa.
The aim of the study was to explore the knowledge, clinical competencies and
medico-legal responsibilities required by diagnostic radiographers for the
interpretation of radiographs and ultimately, to recommend training guidelines
for radiographers in the interpretation of radiographic images.
A qualitative descriptive study employing criterion sampling of qualified
radiologists practicing within the eThekwini district of KZN province was
conducted. Ethics approval to perform this study was obtained from the Durban
University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Institutional Research Ethics Committee
(IREC). All the participants were contacted in their personal capacity. The
research tool used for this study was face-to-face, one-on-one, semi-structured
and in-depth interviews, which included various questions related to
radiographic image interpretation. The data from the interviews were analysed
by the researcher using Tesch’s eight steps for analysing qualitative data.
Moreover, all the data obtained from this research study was kept confidential
and under password protection by the researcher. Findings
Findings reveal that Radiologists support the interpretation of radiographic
images by radiographers in rural settings, and for the radiographer’s scope of
practice to be restructured to include the chest and the musculoskeletal system.
Extension in the scope of practice would result in increased job satisfaction, as
the overall costs, rates and turnaround time will be affected if radiographers
interpret images. Moreover, image interpretation training should begin 3-5
years post degree. An in-depth knowledge of anatomy, radiological anatomy
and pathophysiology is required to understand pattern recognition during image
interpretation. The training would be between 6 months and 5 years. Findings
also indicated that there should be continuous monitoring and accreditation for
image interpretation courses, with accreditation being in the form of a diploma
for each system, a degree or a certificate of competence. Assessments for
image interpretation should be carried out by radiologists. The participants of
this study found that clinical competency for radiographers who are performing
image interpretation has to do with the assessment of the patient, with
assessment determining the history, the background, the past medical history
of relevance and the current presenting symptoms. The study also suggested
that apart from having stringent criteria for radiographers entering the image
interpretation course, radiographers must be able to triage patients and all
assessments should be done by a radiologist. The findings also indicated that
no harm is to be done to the patient; patient information must not be disclosed
to others; radiographers should be covered in the event of adverse outcomes
when interpreting images; there should be decision-making regarding the
radiologic/radiographic report; and the rights of a healthcare provider are to be
Dissertation submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Health Sciences in Radiography at the Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2022.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Health Sciences)

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