A study published online Jan. 24 in the European Respiratory Journal found that while physicians can accurately exclude pneumonia in in patients presenting with acute cough and other lower respiratory track symptoms, diagnosing pneumonia without the help of a chest radiograph is a different story.
In the study, researchers analyzed 2,810 patients across 12 European countries. Each of the patients had an acute cough and doctors were asked whether or not the patient had pneumonia after assessing the patients' signs and symptoms. Then each patient was given a chest X-ray.
Doctor incorrectly diagnosed pneumonia in just 31 patients--about 1 percent--indicating they were able to successfully exclude pneumonia. But, of the 140 patients diagnosed with pneumonia after the chest X-ray, only 29 percent of that group had been correctly diagnosed by doctors, meaning that in most cases an X-ray was needed to confirm pneumonia. Article