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Staggered Radiologist Shifts May Improve Patient Care

Urgent findings detected in early-morning shift are communicated faster

FRIDAY, Sept. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Staggered radiologist work-shifts that incorporate an early-morning shift may reduce the interval of time between the acquisition of radiology studies and communication of urgent findings, potentially improving patient care, according to research published in the September issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Rathachai Kaewlai, M.D., of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues compared the interval between acquisition and communication of urgent findings in 6,448 portable overnight chest radiographic exams by radiologists on an early-morning shift (3 a.m. to 11 a.m.) against historical data from standard day-time shifts (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) to examine the impact of staggered work-shifts on the communication of urgent findings.

The researchers found that, compared with standard-shift radiologists, the early-morning radiologists communicated urgent findings -- which were detected in 308 (4.8 percent) of the studies -- an average of two hours earlier. The early-morning radiologists took a mean time of 340 minutes from acquisition of findings to communication of urgent results, versus 457 minutes in the standard group.

"Staggered radiologist work-shifts that include an early-morning shift can improve the timeliness of reporting urgent findings on overnight portable chest radiography of hospitalized patients," the authors write.

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