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After-Hours CTs on the Rise in Some Emergency Departments

More after-hours ER CT referrals affect trainee workloads, training, researchers say

FRIDAY, Feb. 26, 2016 (HealthDay News) — The number of after-hours computed tomography (CT) scans referred by Australian emergency departments increased substantially from 2011 to 2013, according to a study published in the February issue of the Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Oncology.

Stacy K. Goergen, M.B.B.S., from Monash Imaging in Clayton, Australia, and colleagues surveyed four nights (between August and December 2013) to assess the number of emergency department patients having one or more CT scans; scan total images; non-contrast head CTs; and total number of emergency department patients. Corresponding days in 2012 and 2011 were also studied and trainee staffing levels were measured.

The researchers found that 11 of 32 sites provided data for all four nights and 14 of 32 for one or more nights. There was a 15.7 percent increase in number of emergency department-referred CTs between 1700 and 2200 hours and a 16.8 percent increase between 2201 and 0730 hours from 2011 to 2013. At the same time there was a 6.9 percent increase in overall emergency department visits. The number of CT images increased 23 percent.

“Growth in demand by emergency departments for after-hours CT services has implications for service provision and trainee workloads in Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists-accredited training departments,” the authors write.

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