Radiology In Plain English radiology reports explained

What is a Night Hawk Report?

W

A night hawk report is issued by a radiologist who works for a company that covers a radiology practice after hours.   A night hawk report is issued by a board certified radiologist who in some cases is a specialist in the area of interpretation.   He works for a company or practice which covers radiology services after hours.  This is often after business hours and during the night.

Often these reports are preliminary reports.  This means that a final report will be issued by a radiologist  the next morning.  The preliminary report may not be as complete as the final report.  There are often incidental findings on nighthawk radiology reports that may be left out.   Sometimes the management of these incidental findings is left out because they vary based on radiologist and practice settings.

There are also discrepancies between the night hawk issued preliminary report and the final report issued by a radiologist the next morning.  This is infrequent and often involves a non acute or life threatening issues.  If there is a finding that was overlooked by the night hawk radiologist, than the radiologist who provides the final read will call the emergency room or the doctor taking care of the patient in the hospital.

A night hawk report is provided as a paper or electronic copy to the ordering physician.  This may be an emergency room physician or hospital doctor.  He will receive the report and treat based on it.  In some cases, the night hawk radiologist will call the doctor directly.  This happens when there are especially urgent findings that need to be addressed.

The night hawk report will be issued promptly, usually within an hour of the study being done.  Since these are emergency cases or those on sick hospitalized patients, the results of studies need to be delivered promptly.  The radiologist in the morning will issue a final report.  In most cases, there is agreement, particularly for acute issues.

Night hawk reports are those issued by a radiologist who often works remotely for a company or practice that covers after hours.  These reports are used to treat the patient after hours.  Any discrepancies or oversights are quickly addressed the following morning.  Night hawk radiologists adhere to high quality standards and have quality assurance programs.

Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

About the author

A. Mendelson, MD
Radiology In Plain English radiology reports explained