In Los Angeles, MRI prices vary considerably, but so can the quality of the reports that radiologists generate from diagnostic imaging procedures. So how do you know one radiologist is “better” than another?
There are a few telltale signs you can look for. There are also questions you can ask. Finding the right radiologist can mean the difference between a missed diagnosis or a false positive and accurate, actionable information that can improve your health with a minimum of side effects. Here’s what you need to know when you’re choosing a radiologist in the complex medical landscape of Los Angeles.
Understanding Radiology to find the Best Radiologists in LA
Radiology is a highly specialized medical field that uses a variety of imaging modalities to diagnose and treat injuries and health conditions. Radiologists study major forms of medical imaging, including:
- CAT Scan
- PET Scan
Radiologists write up the results of their studies in detailed radiology reports. These reports themselves can differ considerably from one radiologist to another; in essence, a “good” radiologist is one who avoids listing false positives in their reports, while catching any abnormality that could indicate a greater health concern.
According to Saurabh Jha, MD, associate editor of the Health Care Blog, radiology reports can be understood on a continuum between two extremes: sensitivity and specificity.
A highly sensitive radiologist will write long, detailed radiology reports that include every potential pathology, even those that don’t seem likely to lead to health problems. Highly specific radiologists, on the other hand, write brief, clear, and targeted reports that accurately recognize obvious pathologies, but sometimes miss more subtle indications of health threats.
Which is better, Jha asks? Sensitive radiologists order unnecessary follow-up reports, but rarely miss a diagnosis. Specific radiologists don’t generate false positives, but they also don’t catch everything.
The best radiologists in Los Angeles find a sweet-spot between sensitivity and specificity; this requires long years of training and lots of good, old-fashioned on-the-job experience. Luckily, there is a simple way to determine whether a prospective radiologist is likely to have the experience necessary to generate accurate reports that don’t go overboard on irrelevant details: Board Certification.
Board Certification for Radiologists in Los Angeles
In California as around the United States, radiologists can achieve certification from two leaders in the field: The American Board of Radiology and the American Osteopathic Board of Radiology. Certification with either of these institutions indicates “a high level of training, and demonstrated excellence in the field,” according to the American College of Radiology.
Which institution grants certification depends on the radiologist’s specialty; radiologists are licensed as either medical doctors (MD) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (DO). The former obtains certification from the American Board of Radiology, while the latter applies for this honor with the American Osteopathic Board of radiology.
Certification with either group tells colleagues and patients a few important things:
- Board Certification is a voluntary credential. Radiologists only need to have a medical license to practice, so certification represents an extra level of devotion to excellence in the field.
- In order to maintain Board Certification, applicants must accrue many hours of ongoing education, ensuring that certified radiologists stay up to date on advances in the science.
- Requirements for Board Certification are developed by radiology leaders and are continually re-assessed and validated by external auditors.
- The certification process takes subspecialties into account, helping radiologists, their peers, and patients maintain confidence in highly specialized areas of health care.
At Precise Imaging, all radiologists on staff are required to maintain up-to-date Board Certification. All of our staff are highly trained, well-experienced professionals who provide the finest medical imaging services in the Los Angeles area, all for a lower cost than hospitals typically offer.
Questions to Ask Your Radiologist Before Scheduling an MRI
When choosing a diagnostic imaging provider, it pays to know the details. A few specific questions can tell you whether a radiologist is among the best in the field, or whether you should look elsewhere. Consider the following questions when seeking medical imaging:
- Are the radiologists Board Certified? While a medical license is sufficient to practice radiology in California, Board Certification shows a level of expertise that goes far beyond licensure alone.
- Are the radiologists trained for the specialty you require? Certificates in subspecialties demonstrate precise skills. If you’re being treated for cancer, you want to go to a radiation oncologist. If you need imaging as part of a surgical procedure, seek out an interventional radiologist. For diagnosis, find a specialist in diagnostic radiology.
- Is the equipment at the facility high quality and totally up to date? Newer X-ray scanners provide clearer images with a lower exposure to radiation. Advances in imaging technology create real advantages to using newer equipment.
- Do radiologists provide specialized, highly accurate reports, rather than relying on forms and prewritten responses? Radiology reports should be prepared to order, based on individual medical histories and likely diagnoses. Form-based responses might not achieve the level of customization that excellent health care requires.
- How soon can radiologists provide completed reports to your primary care physician? Long turnaround times are unfortunately common with some radiology providers. Choose an imaging facility that can deliver results quickly, so your doctors can begin the treatment that you need without delay.
All radiologists on staff at Precise Imaging facilities carry Board Certifications. They’re equipped with new and reliable imaging machines to provide the most accurate results available. Radiologists work on-site at the facility, ensuring a quick turnaround on reports, and their reports are original and tailored to a patient’s specific medical needs.
In short, radiologists at Precise Imaging are caring, experienced medical professionals who specialize in the diagnostic imaging procedures that your doctor needs to craft an effective health care plan. They also provide some of the lowest costs in the Los Angeles area. Call Precise Imaging at 800-558-2223 to schedule an appointment today.
“Board Certification and Maintenance of Certification.” ABMS. American Board of Medical Specialties, n.d. Web. 1 May 2017.
“Initial Certification.” TheABR. The American Board of Radiology, n.d. Web. 1 May 2017.
Jha, Sarabh. “Who Is the Better Radiologist?” TheHealthCareBlog. The Health Care Blog, 16 June 2014. Web. 1 May 2017.
“What Is a Radiologist?” ACR. The American College of Radiology, n.d. Web. 1 May 2017.