There is a lack of professionals in the health system. It is not only a Catalan or Spanish issue, but it occurs throughout Europe. One of the specialties where there is more shortage is in the radiology. This reality is what explains why primary care physicians are being forced to interpret diagnostic imaging tests (specifically, x-rays) because no radiologists enough to write those reports.
“It anguishes us because We are not sure. we have the option of request an interconsultation [al especialista]but they take a long time to respond. Having to interpret these tests it takes time and it causes us insecurity”, they point out family doctors in Barcelona consulted by THE NEWSPAPER.
The lack of radiologists means that family doctors have to interpret x-rays and overloads, even more, the primary care centers in Barcelona
Radiologists are medical specialists in x-rays and also in ultrasound, CT, magnetic resonance imaging and vascular radiology. These last tests, more complex than an X-ray, are carried out by specialists in hospitals and they do come with reports.
What these family doctors from Barcelona are now denouncing was something that had been happening, for a long time, in different zones of Catalonia. But now, It also happens in primary care in the Catalan capital. On March 7, the Catalan Health Institute (ICS) sent GPs the ‘Plan 2023 for the adaptation of the primary radiodiagnostic services to Barcelona city, according to which only those urgent, chest or pediatric imaging tests. The plan also includes the training of technical staff to do ultrasounds, as well as a training offer specifically in radiodiagnosis aimed at general practitioners.
“Primary school is getting worse because, de facto, we do more homework than two months ago,” says a doctor from CAP Besòs
“Barcelona was the the only management of Catalonia of the ICS in which all x-rays were reported [es decir, que la prueba iba acompañada de un informe médico del radiólogo]but since we ran out of radiologists in elementary school, we receive x-rays of the musculoskeletal system without a report”, the Mint Meritxell Sánchez-Amat, medical of the CAP Besòs and president of the Catalan Forum for Primary Care (Focap). He denounces that this has happened “from one day to the next” and that the supposed training for primary care doctors has not yet arrived. “All this generate medical insecurity”, insists. It also puts the focus on the work overload that represents in the already saturated family doctors. “Primary school is getting worse because, de facto, we do more homework than two months ago,” rivet.
The Ministry of Health defends that the plain radiology interpretation is a competence of all physicians”, especially those with a “generalist profile” such as family, emergency or internal medicine doctors. “There’s a deficit of radiologists, but the family doctor has training to interpret the photographs”, corroborates Laura Conangla, doctor of the CAP Doctor Robert de badalona and member of the Catalan Society of Family and Community Medicine (Camfic). Conangla points out that the lack of radiologists yes it has meant a “increase in waiting lists” in hospitals, as in fact is already happening.
“Every year the demand for tests increases by 15% and each radiology staff is missing between 10% and 20% of professionals”
own Catalan Society of Radiology recognizes the lack of radiologists in the system, one of the medical specialties that most accuse the lack of personnel. “In every radiology template between 10% and 20% of professionals are missing. And this happens when he 85% of medical decisions are based in the data provided by radiological tests and every year demand increases by 15% of these explorations,” says Save Pedraza, director of the medical imaging area of the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and president of the Catalan Society of Radiology. This department of the Clinic does about 300,000 tests a year, figure that shows the important volume of work.
Salut assures that they have sufficient knowledge but has offered training and is studying to incorporate Artificial Intelligence
In addition, it highlights the “efforts”, together with the Ministry of Health, to “train” more radiologists and increase accredited places. “During residency, family doctors receive chest radiology training. In addition, between CAP and hospitals there are consultation circuits, there is always a dialogue. but we have to put common sense when using the resources properly. Always we prioritize the most urgent and radiologists always give service to the requests that are made to us”, defends Pedraza.
The ‘conselleria’, for its part, ensures that, looking to the future, it wants to work on algorithms that incorporate artificial intelligence to support professionals in the interpretation of radiographs.
While this does not happen, family doctors live with discomfort having to interpret x-rays. “Generate medical insecurity. When you ask for a test, having the result from the radiologist gives you very quiet“, points Jaume Sellares, vice president of Col.legi Oficial de Metges de Barcelona (Comb).
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