May 8, 2007—Today at the Annual Meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society, held in Orlando, Fla, the full results of a recent study about the use of night-read services are being presented.

For the study, 300 hospitals were randomly selected from the American Hospital Association Directory of Hospitals. These hospitals were contacted with a survey that consisted of 59 questions related to motivation, demographics, and selection of nighthawk services, financial arrangements and level of training. Of those 300 hospitals, 115 (38.3%)—including 63 practices that use an external nighthawk service—responded.

According to Adam Kaye, lead author of the study and a medical student at Yale University, convenience was named by most practices as the most important reason for using a night-read service. Second was the value for recruiting, followed by excessive volume.

Of the hospitals that participated in the study, 51% of practices said that they obtain between 1% and 5% of their reads from a night-read service, and 22% said that they receive less than 1%. The study also showed that 25 of the 63 practices surveyed (about 40%) used a night-read service located internationally. Of these, 40% did not know the proportion of foreign or American radiologists reading the images. Another 56% said that the radiologists reading internationally were either all American or mostly Americans, and one practice said that it was about 50% Americans.

“Although the results of this study might not have direct impact on patient care, knowledge of the utilization of after-hours teleradiology services may provide important information regarding both the current state and the future of such services,” Kaye said. “Hopefully we can use the information from our study as a basis for future, similar studies to document the progression of this relatively new and somewhat controversial topic.