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AI ethics statements issued by major radiology groups

by Thomas Dworetzky, Contributing Reporter | October 02, 2019
Artificial Intelligence Business Affairs
As AI and its handmaiden, big data, make increasing inroads into healthcare, major U.S. and European radiology organizations have issued statements concerning the need to be proactive to ensure its ethical use in the field.

The multi-society statement — which focuses on data, algorithms and practice — appeared in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, Radiology, Insights into Imaging and the Canadian Association of Radiologists Journal.

“Radiologists remain ultimately responsible for patient care and will need to acquire new skills to do their best for patients in the new AI ecosystem,” said Dr. J. Raymond Geis, ACR Data Science Institute senior scientist and one of the paper’s leading contributors in an American Academy or Radiology statement.

The societies collaborating on the statement included the ACR, European Society of Radiology (ESR), Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM), European Society of Medical Imaging Informatics (EuSoMII), Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR) and American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM).

"Developments in artificial intelligence represent one of the most exciting, and most challenging, changes in how radiology services will be delivered to patients in the near future,” noted Dr. Adrian Brady, chairperson of the ESR Quality, Safety and Standards Committee and co-author. “The potential for patient benefit from AI implementation is great, but there are also significant risks of unexpected or unplanned harmful effects of these changes.”

AI's great promise comes with significant risks to personal privacy, rights and freedom — as it contains the possibility of taking humans significantly out of much of the the decision process for diagnosis and treatment.

And as various AI systems have come online, albeit in preliminary and experimental forms, it has become clear to many observers that the field lacks “clear standards guiding its development and use,” note the authors, stressing that the ethical use of such systems in he field “should promote well-being and minimize harm resulting from potential pitfalls and inherent biases.”

The impact of AI will clearly be huge in radiology and “it is incumbent upon the radiology community to develop codes of ethics and practice to guide the utilization of this powerful technology and ensure the privacy and safety of patients,” said co-author Dr. Matthew B. Morgan, associate professor and director of IT and Quality Improvement in Breast Imaging, department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences, University of Utah, and member of the RSNA Radiology Informatics Committee.

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