Interruptions occur often and need auditing, CT study finds

A group of researchers in the west of Scotland think there should be a more robust system for recording interruptions during reporting sessions, and a software update for logging interruptions in a hospital's RIS would be helpful for the purpose of an audit.

"The impact of interruptions during radiological reporting has been downplayed in the past but in a rather demanding radiological environment and increasing workload, these should be taken into consideration for planning of departmental workflow," noted Dr. Nadeem Butt, a radiologist from the Greater Glasgow and Clyde National Health Service (NHS) Trust, U.K. "Effort should be made to ensure that a reporting session is not unnecessarily interrupted."

A total of 70 reporting sessions at seven different centers during a working week were studied by Butt, who presented the findings at the U.K. Radiological Congress (UKRC), held last month in Manchester.

Reporting radiologists were asked to note down each interruption and provide details about the cause and approximate duration. They were also asked to record whether they were interrupted while reporting a scan or in between scans.

The number of interruptions per session ranged from one to 21. The average interruption time was 55 minutes in one session, but the total maximum cumulative duration of interruptions was 170 minutes. The most common source of interruptions was clinical colleagues requesting a scan (38%), and the second most frequent was queries from radiographers about the planning of scans and setting of priorities (30%). Another 14% of interruptions were due to report chasing involving clinical colleagues, 8% came from secretarial and administrative staff, and the remaining 10% were due to personal breaks or questions from trainees.

Most interruptions occurred between scans but this aspect was not recorded diligently, he emphasized.

Interruptions during CT reporting sessions have received very limited attention in the published literature and in departmental workflow planning, Butt concluded, and they should be audited to assess the impact on reporting sessions.

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