April 21, 2011

Cutting Down On ER Imaging Tests

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Technology inside the ER may help cut down on unnecessary imaging tests for patients.

This year, more than 2 million patients will be transported between different hospital emergency departments (EDs) in order to receive appropriate care. Many times, these patients have to undergo the same imaging tests, such as CT scans, at both EDs.

However, a new study found that hospitals might be able to significantly reduce these unnecessary medical imaging tests by using a system that imports data from a CD-ROM.
Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston found that uploading CD images of emergency transfer patients' diagnostic medical images into the receiving hospital's picture archiving and communication system (PACS) reduced the rate of additional imaging by 17-percent. These findings could offer financial and medical benefits for ER patients.

"We know that a substantial portion of imaging performed on ED transfer patients is repeated at the receiving institution, which drives up healthcare costs, delays patient care and often exposes patients to additional ionizing radiation and intravenous contrast material," lead researcher Aaron Sodickson, M.D., Ph.D., interim director of emergency radiology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, was quoted as saying.

For the study, the researchers reviewed the medical records of 1,487 patients who were transferred to the Brigham and Women's Hospital ED in 2009 with a CD containing medical images acquired elsewhere. CD import to PACS was successful for 78 percent of the patients. There were 326 unsuccessful CD imports due to incompatible image formats or CD malfunction.

Researchers found that patients with successfully imported CDs had a 17-percent decrease in imaging rates and a 16-percent decrease in subsequent CT scans compared to unsuccessful imports. The researchers estimate the reduction in CT scans due to successful CD import to PACS would amount to 484,000 scans each year.

"Implementing CD import procedures has provided us with a far more efficient way to take care of our patients," Dr. Sodickson was quoted as saying.

SOURCE: Radiology, April 19, 2011