Wet Read: Creatures of habit

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Powerful indeed is the empire of habit.”

—Publilius Syrus

Radiologists are indeed powerful creatures of habit. Both good and bad. As a paid observer (that’s what we do, you know), I watch people. Turns out, I’m surrounded by radiologists. So, I get to watch quite a few of them. So, as I discuss this, I am painfully aware of the fact that I am also describing myself from time to time. Res ipsa loquitur.

If you have a reading room, I’ll bet you have “your” workstation. The desk height, the chair, the position of the monitors, the coffee cup and the pens are all positioned carefully (dare I say ritually?) by you. If someone gets in there before you, maybe not knowing you’re coming, and you arrive? Man, uncomfortable silence. Or, maybe you’re upfront and you just move them out.

“Would you like me to go elsewhere?”


MY workstation. I’ve had a few left-handed colleagues over the years, and I can’t STAND coming to a workstation after they leave. Can’t these people do anything right? I’m a little tall, also, and short people leave the desk at a height that I can’t deal with. Crank that bad boy up, first thing. Crack your knuckles, maybe mark your territory a little better next time.

I’ll bet you have a favorite chair. It can’t be any chair other than yours. If you read in your own office, good for you. Now, shut up. Many of us read in larger rooms, and we have to scout for our chair, and occasionally fight for it. I come in, see if my chair is occupied, and if so, forcibly remove the occupant, and get it over to MY workstation. Dammit, stop taking my chair! Are you mental?

You have display protocols for reading studies on PACS. If things aren’t right, your lips quiver and you have speech arrest. The AP chest film has to be THERE. Somebody shows you a study on their PACS, and you think, “What the hell is that series over there for? What an idiot.”

Some people read right to left with older studies, and it makes me nuts. Might as well be blacked out monitors. My brain can’t function.

I think habits are a fact of life, somewhere in there with superstitions. I may chat at some point about those, as well. Keep doing that good work. Mahalo.

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Phillips CD.  Wet Read: Creatures of habit.  Appl Radiol.  2017;46(11):48.

By C. Douglas Phillips, MD, FACR| November 13, 2017
Categories:  Section

About the Author

C. Douglas Phillips, MD, FACR

C. Douglas Phillips, MD, FACR

Dr. Phillips is a Professor of Radiology, Director of Head and Neck Imaging, at Weill Cornell Medical College, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. He is a member of the Applied Radiology Editorial Advisory Board.

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