The Effect of PACS on the Time Required for Technologists to Produce Radiographic Images in the Emergency Department Radiology Suite
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The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of a switch to a filmless image management system on the time required for technologists to produce radiographic images in the emergency department (ED) after controlling for exam difficulty and a variable workload. Time and motion data were collected on patients who had radiographic images taken while being treated in the emergency department over the 3½-year period from April 1997 to November 2000. Event times and demographic data were obtained from the radiology information system, from the hospital information system, from emergency department records, or by observation by research coordinators. Multiple least squares regression analysis identified several independent predictors of the time required for technologists to produce radiographic images. These variables included the level of technologist experience, the number of trauma-alert patient arrivals, and whether a filmless image management system was used (all P <.05). Our regression model explained 22% of the variability in technologist time (R2 Adjusted, 0.22; F = 24.01; P <.0001). The regression model predicted a time saving of 2 to 3 minutes per patient in the elapsed time from notification of a needed examination until image availability because of the implementation of PACS, a delay of 4 to 6 minutes per patient who were imaged by technologists who spent less than 10% of their work assignments within the ED, and a delay of 18 to 27 minutes in radiology workflow because of the arrival of a trauma alert patient. A filmless system decreased the amount of time required to produce radiographs. The arrival of a trauma alert patient delayed radiology workflow in the ED. Inexperienced technologists require 4 to 6 minutes of additional time per patient to complete the same amount of work accomplished by an experienced technologist.
KeywordsEmergency Department Regression Model Department Radiology Radiographic Image Hospital Information System
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