Uncertainty and Interpretive Error

Michael A. Bruno

in Error and Uncertainty in Diagnostic Radiology

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print February 2019 | ISBN: 9780190665395
Published online February 2019 | e-ISBN: 9780190929657 | DOI:
Uncertainty and Interpretive Error

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  • Radiography
  • Primary Care
  • Public Health


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Uncertainty pervades medical diagnosis and can rarely be entirely eliminated. Diagnostic imaging is meant to reduce that uncertainty, ideally to the point where a clinician feels confident enough to choose a course of action. But the process of diagnostic imaging is itself prone to high variability and error. Sources of variability include technical, procedural, and anatomic variation, the variable use of language to describe and report radiological abnormalities, and the range of variability in the manifestations of disease processes Cognitive biases and varying understanding of the prevalence and likelihood of disease among radiologists can also lead to interpretive error. This chapter explores the sources of error and the sources of uncertainty in the radiological process. There is considerable overlap between the two.

Chapter.  6660 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Radiography ; Primary Care ; Public Health

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