Image transfers to PACS reduces repetitive testing to ED patients

Researchers at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston showed that when CDs of radiology images were imported from outside emergency departments into the hospital's picture archiving and communications system (PACS), fewer repetitive studies were performed on patients transferred into the hospital.

The study involved 1,487 patients transferred to Brigham & Women's from Feb. 1, 2009 through Aug. 31, 2009. The radiological images of those patients were stored on CDs and imported to the hospital's PACS. The control group consisted of 254 patients who were transferred to Brigham & Women's between August 2007 and January 2008, before the CD import system was adopted.

Images were successfully imported into the PACS for 1,161 patients in the study group. Sixty-eight percent of those images were CT scans. The researchers found that physicians ordered 17 percent fewer diagnostic imaging tests--and 16 percent fewer CT scans--for the successful-import group than for the failed-import group. Focusing only on CT scans in the ED, the successful-import group had 29 percent fewer CT scans than the historical control patients.

This research has implications for all institutions that use PACS, seeing as there are 2.2 million ED transfer patients per year. The researchers calculated that if the difference between the successful and failed-import groups were extrapolated to the whole population, 484,000 CT scans a year could be avoided in the U.S.

To learn more:
- read the CMIO article
- check out the study abstract 

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