There are many instances where due to increased workload humans tend to push their limits and mostly end up making mistakes. Increased diagnostic volumes is one such similar case where radiologists face increase in evening and overnight shifts.
While managing this atypical situation radiologists are making more mistakes with inappropriate diagnosis. Studies show that a possible cause behind this interpretation inaccuracy is the disturbed circadian rhythm.
In a study published by Patel et al on August 18 from the Mayo Clinic Arizona in Phoenix suggested that not only the resident radiologists but the experienced radiologists made similar mistakes during night shifts due to fatigue and circadian misalignment factor. However the interpretation time taken was less among experienced readers as compared to resident radiologists.
According to Patel et al there is a higher error rate with 3% during evening and overnight interpretations as compared to 2% error seen during daytime. Moreover they found 69 percent of readers made more mistakes during the second part of the night shift as compared to the first half which was 3.7 percent versus 2.5 percent respectively.
In another study which was conducted from June 2014 to June 2018 on 32 fellows who read 10,090 CT scans during off hours. They checked on errors that affected follow-up care and compared mistakes that happened during daytime hours (7 a.m. to 5:59 p.m.) to those that occurred during evening and overnight (6 p.m. to 6:59 a.m.).They found that there was increase in error from morning hours to night hours and maximum during the second half of night shift.
To solve this problem it has been suggested to add more radiologists to the night shift which will possibly reduce these interpretation errors and can further reduce the workflow burden too.