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Quality assessment of X-rays interpreted via teleradiology for Medecins Sans Frontieres

  • 2014/02/11
Type of publication
  • Articles
  • Spijker S
  • Andronikou S
  • Kosack C
  • Wootton R
  • Bonnet M
  • Lemmens N
  • Others
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is a humanitarian organisation which provides emergency medical aid in challenging settings; field staff often diagnose and treat patients using limited resources and without the expertise of specialists. Teleradiology is available for MSF sites which use digital computed radiography (CR) imaging or conventional film and chemistry. We conducted a retrospective study of the quality of X-rays utilised by MSF for teleradiology diagnosis over a one-year period. All plain X-ray examinations referred for interpretation using two MSF teleradiology platforms in 2012 were assessed against 15 image criteria and further evaluated as being either diagnostic or non-diagnostic. The sites studied sent an average of 115 images (range 10-452). Images were a mixture of chest, skeletal and abdominal radiographs. The majority of the images were CR (n = 597, 74%). Three sites were MSF/Epicentre installed and operated (Epicentre is a research facility affiliated with MSF); five sites were operated by the ministry of health, imaging patients referred by MSF. The sites performing poorest for quality were all facilities which used film and chemistry (53% non-diagnostic images). The sites performing better for quality were facilities which used CR digital imaging (12% non-diagnostic images), two of which had also undergone radiographer training. Our study suggests that transitioning to CR digital imaging has the potential to improve image quality compared to film and chemistry. Radiography training should be made a priority for all sites with X-ray services. The continued utilisation of X-ray services by MSF where images have proven to be consistently poor should be re-considered.