If you head to the emergency room after a slip in the driveway and you live in Vermont, you might expect a computed tomography (CT) scan and a quick diagnosis of a fracture. But experience the same fall in Washington, DC, and you might find it’s a different story.
A new set of imaging metrics recently made available from Virtual Radiologic (vRad), a national teleradiology practice reading more than 7 million scans annually, charts regional and state-specific trends to provide hospitals and health systems with objective comparisons to their peer groups. The Radiology Patient Care (RPC) Indices reveals distinct trends in CT scanning practices in emergency departments (ED) throughout the country.
For example, data shows that when patients in Vermont seek a CT scan after a fall, radiologists have a positive finding 75% of the time. In contrast, radiologists in Washington, DC evaluating similar patients report a positive finding only 61% of the time. The national average for such findings is 69%. Vermont shows the highest positive findings rate at 75%, followed by Washington, Maine, West Virginia, and New York. Washington, DC has the lowest overall positive findings at 65%, followed by Mississippi, Puerto Rico, New Mexico, and Kentucky. The national average for positive findings is 71%.
“The RPC Indices are not a score card, but a set of evidence-based information that can help physicians and hospital administrators ask the right questions to make better decisions for the health of their patients,” said Benjamin W. Strong, MD, vRad’s chief medical officer. “For example, these findings might indicate that easier access to hospitals in Washington, DC results in more patients using EDs for non-emergent primary care. The low percentage of findings could be related to CTs being used as an initial diagnostic tool when compared to Vermont.
“Or, higher risk may be driving physicians to practice defensive medicine, using CTs as an essential component of patient evaluation because they are concerned about being sued for malpractice,” Strong continued. “Regardless, the RPC Indices can help measure the clinical and financial impacts of the nuanced patient care decisions made by healthcare professionals every day—regardless of where they live and practice.”
The complete set of free RPC Indices, including patient age, gender, body region, hospital, and IDN type, as well as the new regional and state-specific interactive infographics, can be found at vRad.