It’s Time to Ditch the Disk: Critical Care

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Radiology residents Mary Ellen Koran, MD, PhD, and Audrey Verde, MD, PhD, from Stanford University, contributed this post.

Sometimes, hearing a patient’s personal experience is the call-to-action we need. Below is Amanda’s* story:

“In October 2014, I knew I had cancer again. It would be my third time with ovarian cancer, and I could just feel it. Unfortunately, my doctor had just moved to another state, so I needed a new specialist. I knew my new doctor would require CT images; however, their office wouldn’t order a new scan until they had the comparison in-hand. Because my previous scans were done in another state, the fastest way I could get my images was to fill out paperwork, have my parents print it out and then drive two hours to pick up a CD of my images and mail it to me overnight. I called my new physician’s office every day for a week while my pain grew steadily. They finally found the CD in their mailroom, but told me they still couldn’t order a new scan because the comparison CD they received was of the wrong body part.

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 After over a week of excruciating pain, I was very upset because I correctly feared my cancer had returned and I couldn’t get any help. After visiting the doctor’s office and looking at the CD, I noticed the label said, “Name, Patient ID, CT of Chest, A…” The label had cut off the full name, which should’ve been “ Chest, Abdomen and Pelvis” – exactly what they needed. My care was delayed because of a mislabeled CD.

 Following two terrible weeks of pain, fear and frustration, my new physicians finally ordered a CT scan. My cancer had dramatically grown. I had surgery immediately, which could have been even more immediate if I hadn’t dealt with the issues obtaining my physical CD, which is a major barrier to care.”

* This patient has consented to use her real name.

There are multiple examples here where a secure, cloud-based image sharing platform would have improved patient care. Will you join us on our journey to #DitchTheDisk and improve the standard of care for all patients?

The #DitchTheDisk Task Force actively seeks patient and practitioner advocates as we embark on a journey to change the method of imaging transfer. To get involved, please fill out this form or email ditchthedisk@acr.org.

If you or someone you know has been affected by access to medical images, share your stories using the hashtag #DitchTheDisk on social media, commenting below or by joining the discussion on Engage (login required).

How Do We Resume Non-Urgent Patient Care in the Age of COVID-19?

Am. College of Radiology-AMCLCJacqueline A. Bello, MD, FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology® (ACR®) Commission on Quality and Safety, contributed this post.

Many regions around the country are facing a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past week, several states have taken the first steps to open their economies. As radiology practices begin to grapple with when and how to safely resume non-urgent care such as mammograms, image-guided procedures and more, the ACR is committed to helping radiology practices around the country make more informed decisions on how to approach this new phase while putting the health and safety of our patients, providers and staff first.

In accordance with this transition, the ACR Commission on Quality and Safety has constructed and released the ACR Statement on Safe Resumption of Non-Urgent Radiology Care during the COVID-19 Pandemic for further guidance.

While there is no simple, one-size-fits-all approach for the safe re-engagement of non-urgent radiology care, we have prepared guidelines that can be applied to most practice environments. This includes the consideration of local COVID-19 statistics; availability of personal protective equipment; local, state and federal government mandates; institutional regulatory guidance; local safety measures; healthcare worker availability; patient and healthcare worker risk factors; factors specific to the indication(s) for radiology care; and examination or procedure acuity.

Radiology leaders should ultimately work closely with hospital systems, referring providers and patients to coordinate safe and effective care based on unique local factors. The health and safety of all patients, providers and staff members remains of the utmost importance in determining your practice’s status.

Read the full ACR Statement on Safe Resumption of Non-Urgent Radiology care during the COVID-19 Pandemic published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology for more information.

  • The ACR is here to support you as we navigate through this next transitional period. Keep up-to-date on the latest COVID-19 radiology-specific clinical, economic and legislative resources and more on acr.org/covid19.

 Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, and join the discussion on Engage (login required).

Leading in a Hot Zone

ACR-18Dana H. Smetherman, MD, MPH, MBA, FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology® (ACR®) Commission on Breast Imaging, contributed this post.

The first Louisiana patient with COVID-19 was identified on March 9. By April 28, there were 27,286 cases and 1,758 deaths from the disease in our state. While these statistics pale in comparison to states like New York and New Jersey, Louisiana is ranked sixth in the nation for number of cases at 585 and fifth for number of deaths at 38 per 100,000. Although the prevalence of COVID-19 is now declining, when cases peaked in Louisiana, the hospitals in our system, Ochsner Health, were caring for more than 60% of COVID-19 inpatients in New Orleans and more than 30% in the state.

As chair of the radiology department at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, my leadership team and I have employed several strategies to lead during this crisis.

  • Communicate — In-person conversations, phone calls, texts, emails, virtual staff meetings, social media and picture archive and communication system (PACS) chat functions have all been part of our approach to departmental communication. In this rapidly evolving situation, we have also encouraged our colleagues to use virtual tools to facilitate interactions with residents, referring providers and technologists. In-person rounding by department leaders has enabled rapid identification and resolution of issues, including the emotional support needs of our colleagues.
  • Prioritize the safety of our colleagues, employees and patients — Social distancing in the workplace (including physically separating physicians in reading rooms and deploying home workstations where appropriate) and providing adequate, readily available personal protective equipment are some of the most important methods to ensure the safety of our physicians, advanced practice providers and employees.
  • Highlight positive achievements and express gratitude — Though all of us are facing unprecedented uncertainty, we are striving to highlight positive outcomes, such as the number of patients extubated and discharged, the development of abundant, readily available in-house polymerase chain reaction and antibody testing and successful recruitment to COVID-19 clinical trials. At Ochsner, we have also celebrated our “health care heroes” in internal and external communications, including social media.

As we transition to the next phase of this pandemic and develop strategies to reopen imaging services, new challenges will undoubtedly arise, as will the need to adopt different leadership strategies. Nonetheless, I am optimistic that the lessons learned and knowledge gained in this first skirmish of our battle with COVID-19 will serve us well as our specialty and community navigate the uncharted waters ahead.

  • This blog post expands upon Dr. Smetherman’s remarks during the ACR Radiology Leadership Institute® Leadership Town Hall: Leading in Times of Crisis. If you missed the livestream event, you can catch the replay and access additional resources at acr.org/covid19.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, and join the discussion on Engage (login required).