Practice Policy and Quality Initiatives

Practice Policy and Quality Initiatives: Decreasing Variability in Turnaround Time for Radiographic Studies from the Emergency Department

Published Online:

A project is described that used quality improvement techniques to decrease the variability in turnaround time for radiology reports on emergency department radiographs, with an associated improvement in patient throughput in the emergency department.

A study was performed to evaluate use of quality improvement techniques to decrease the variability in turnaround time (TAT) for radiology reports on emergency department (ED) radiographs. An interdepartmental improvement team applied multiple interventions. Statistical process control charts were used to evaluate for improvement in mean TAT for ED radiographs, percentage of ED radiographs read within 35 minutes, and standard deviation of the mean TAT. To determine if the changes in the radiology department had an effect on the ED, the average time from when an ED physician first met with the patient to the time when the final treatment decision was made was also measured. There was a significant improvement in mean TAT for ED radiographs (from 23.9 to 14.6 minutes), percentage of ED radiographs read within 35 minutes (from 82.2% to 92.9%), and standard deviation of the mean TAT (from 22.8 to 12.7). The mean time from when an ED physician first met with the patient to the time a final treatment decision was made decreased from 88.7 to 79.8 minutes. Quality improvement techniques were used to decrease mean TAT and the variability in TAT for ED radiographs. This change was associated with an improvement in ED throughput.

© RSNA, 2013


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Article History

Received: July 25 2012
Revision requested: Oct 12 2012
Revision received: Nov 5 2012
Accepted: Nov 18 2012
Published online: Mar 2 2013
Published in print: Mar 2013