The study, for which Dr Gunn was lead author, was a survey of 59 radiologists and 100 primary care physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), which he undertook during his training there (J Am Coll Radiol. 2013;10:122-127).
Both groups of doctors were asked to consider hypothetical radiology reports and interpret the statistical likelihood (0% to 25%, 26% to 50%, and so on) of the presence of metastatic disease based on the terms used in the report.
The modifying terms were “diagnostic for,” “represents,” “likely represents,” “probably,” “consistent with,” “compatible with,” “concerning for,” “suspicious for,” “may represent,” and “cannot exclude.”
The article comments are priceless. For example, Dr. Mark Walters writes:
This is a made up problem. I have never had a clinician, in 30 years of Radiology practice, come to me and say they did not understand the meaning of ” consistent with” or “cannot exclude”.
Clear as mud.