Efforts to replace physicians are occurring not only in corporations but in academia. The University of Pennsylvania’s radiology department seems to have a particular interest in replacing radiologists with lesser-trained ‘radiology extenders,’ and in 2020, published a study claiming that these assistants outperformed radiology residents in interpreting chest x-rays. (While the article insisted that there were no differences in errors, radiology assistants significantly misread 6 films, including 3 potentially dangerous errors, while radiology residents misread 1 film, not dangerously)

PPP identified numerous problems with the study, including the ethics of using residents without formal IRB review. We sent a letter to the University of Pennsylvania’s Vice-Provost for Research expressing our concern. While denying any wrongdoing in research methodology, the authors did choose to withdraw the article.

PPP Board member and radiologist Phil Shaffer MD and radiologist Sharon D’Souza MD MPH discuss the details of the article and its withdrawal.