The Effect of Teleradiology on Time to Interpretation for CT Pulmonary Angiographic Studies

  • Kennedy S
  • Bhargavan M
  • Sunshine J
 et al. 
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Abstract

Purpose: The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of a teleradiology service on the time to interpretation for computed tomographic (CT) pulmonary angiographic studies. Methods: A survey of clinical and imaging physicians was performed to develop achievable goals for the interpretation of CT pulmonary angiographic studies. Percentages of studies given preliminary written reports within these thresholds were compared for 485 CT pulmonary angiographic studies completed 3 months before teleradiology was implemented and 617 studies completed 3 months afterward. A total of 1,638 CT brain studies completed over identical periods were used for comparison. Statistical significance (P < .05) was evaluated with 2-tailed t-tests. Results: The median of the optimal time to the preliminary written interpretation of a CT pulmonary angiographic study reported by radiology chairs was 60 minutes, compared with 20 minutes for emergency medicine physicians, who also reported a 40-minute limit for an acceptable time to interpretation. There were statistically significant improvements in the percentages of these studies interpreted within the 60-minute (51% to 62%; P < .01) and 20-minute (9% to 13%; P < .05) optimal time thresholds, as well as within the 40-minute acceptable time threshold (34% to 43%; P < .01). No statistically significant improvements occurred for CT brain studies. Conclusions: The use of teleradiology to interpret off-hours inpatient imaging serves as an important process improvement tool in decreasing the time to preliminary written reports for CT pulmonary angiographic studies. By establishing agreed-on time standards for reporting such examinations, radiologists and clinicians can collaborate to ensure the prompt diagnosis and treatment of potentially lethal illnesses, such as pulmonary embolism. © 2009 American College of Radiology.

Author-supplied keywords

  • CT pulmonary angiography
  • Teleradiology
  • process improvement
  • pulmonary embolism

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Authors

  • Scott Kennedy

  • Mythreyi Bhargavan

  • Jonathan H. Sunshine

  • Howard P. Forman

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