Use of time during body computed tomography scanning in a tertiary care teaching hospital: focus on patient throughput.
RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES: To control costs, it is increasingly important to make efficient use of imaging technology. We sought to determine and analyze the time required to complete each step of a body computed tomography (CT) scan, focusing on factors that influence patient throughput. METHODS: Over 4 weeks, we prospectively monitored the time required for each step of a body CT scan (i.e., image time, check time, and clear time). Covariate data were collected by patient status: outpatient, inpatient, emergency department (ED), and intensive care unit (ICU); work shift; and radiologist training level (junior resident, senior resident, fellow, and attending). Technologists also predicted whether repeat images would be requested by the radiologist. RESULTS: Three hundred eighty CT examinations were studied: 277 for outpatients, 90 for inpatients, 9 for ED patients, and 4 for ICU patients. The mean total examination time was 44.7 min (mean image time = 33.1 min, mean review time = 8.2 min, and mean clear time = 3.4 min), which did not differ significantly with patient status. A second opinion was sought from a consultant radiologist on the scans of 44 patients. Consultation was requested significantly more frequently (1) by junior residents than by senior residents or fellows and (2) for ED and ICU patients (22% and 50%, respectively) than in outpatients and inpatients (10% and 14%, respectively). Repeat images were obtained from 75 patients, and this was not significantly related to patient status, scan type, or radiologist training level. When the technologist predicted that no repeat images were needed, this prediction agreed with the radiologist in 86% of the cases. When the technologist predicted that repeat images were necessary, this prediction agreed with the radiologist in 56% of the cases. CONCLUSION: Reviewing scans before the patient leaves the CT suite adds considerably to the total time required to complete a scan, particularly if junior residents review scans. If technologists obtain repeat images at their discretion, time would be saved.
Paulson, EK; Leder, RA; Delong, DM; Keogan, MT; Moore, AR; Nelson, RC
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