The results of a new study of more than 74,000 mammograms between May 2008 and September 2011 found a higher rate of recall at hospitals than at private practices, such as Advanced Imaging Centers.

            This study was authored by Dr. Ana Lourenco, a radiologist at the Rhode IslandHospital and BrownUniversity’s School of Medicine.

The average recall rate was found to be 7.8%; however, the recall rate at hospitals was 8.6% compared to the 6.9% recall rate at independent practices, with recall meaning the patient is called back for additional screens after the initial mammogram.

The study explained that technology was not the cause of the difference in recall rates because both hospitals and private practices used the same technology. What may have contributed to the higher recall rate at hospitals was that more women at the hospitals had previous surgeries.

“These patients may have more complicated mammograms to interpret or may be at higher risk for cancer than patients at the community site,” Dr. Lourenco said. “Higher-risk patients would be expected to increase the recall rate of the population.”

The study also found that the average age of the patient being screened at the hospital was 56, while the average age of the private practice patient was 63. Younger age has actually been associated with a higher recall rate, according to Dr. Lourenco.

Recall rates have been studied as a factor determining quality of radiologists by the U.S. government. After all, recalls are psychologically taxing on the patient, in addition to the added healthcare expense. However, Dr. Lourenco warns against putting too much emphasis on recall rates since they can be impacted by uncontrollable factors, as evidenced by the study.