Patient Encounter Time Intervals in the Evaluation of Emergency Department patients requiring Abdominopelvic CT: Oral contrast versus no contrast
Emergency Radiology (2004) 10: 310-313.
Huynh LN, Coughlin BF, Wolfe J, Blank F, Lee SY, Smithline HA.
The aim of the study was to assess various time intervals during patient encounters involving unen-hanced (NECT) versus oral-contrast-enhanced (CECT) abdominopelvic (A/P) CT performed in the emergency department (ED) on adult patients presenting with acute abdominal pain. Computerized patient order entry and administrative data as well as scans themselves were retrospectively evaluated at a high-volume (107,000 visits per annum) regional medical center urban ED for a period of 30 consecutive days. All adult patients who had CT of abdomen and pelvis for abdominal pain during the 30 days of the study period were included. Data collected included demographic information, time of registration, time of first encounter in the ED, time of CT order, clinical indication for scan, time of scan, time of disposition (i.e., discharge or admit), and final disposition. Patients were excluded if they were less than 16 years old, pregnant, or met criteria for major trauma and evaluation in the trauma suite. Patients were also excluded from analysis if they received more than one scan on the same day (3 patients). Of 183 patients, 102 underwent NECT and 81 CECT. Some of the patients who underwent NECT had urinary colic. Among patients who did not have urinary colic there is a statistically significant difference in the median time intervals between: (1) patient arrival in the ED and evaluation by a physician (NECT 57 min, CECT 84 min, P< 0.001); (2) patient exam by the physician and the time the A/P CT was ordered (NECT 35 min, CECT 63 min, P < 0.01); (3) receipt of the CT order and the time of the scan (NECT 104 min, CECT 172 min, P-< 0.001); and (4) time of arrival in ED and disposition (NECT 358 min, CECT 599 min, P< 0.001). There are significant time interval differences between CECT and NECT during patient encounters involving adults presenting with abdominal pain to the ED. The differences are greater than the amount of time allotted for opaci-fication of small bowel (90 min). Baseline data such as these may prove useful in assessing the efficacy of scan techniques and improving resource utilization.