Affiche “Inter-facility transfers for CT scans from a rural emergency department: a pilot study”

June 8, 2016

Affiche “Inter-facility transfers for CT scans from a rural emergency department: a pilot study” – congrès de l’ACMU (Bergeron C, Fleet R et al.).


Introduction: Rural emergency departments (EDs) are an important gateway to care for the 20% of Canadians who live in rural areas. We recently reported that fewer than 15% of rural EDs in Canada have access to a CT scanner. Lack of CT scanners in rural hospitals can result in frequent inter-facility transfers and delays in diagnosing and treating life-threatening conditions. No recent study has examined this issue.


Objective: With a future larger study in mind, we did a pilot assessment of inter-facility transfers for CT scans from one rural ED and evaluated the quality of the data and feasibility.


Methods: This pilot study was part of our province-wide study on rural emergency care. Criteria were having 24/7 physician coverage and acute-care hospitalization beds. The hospital was also selected for its proximity and local interest. Two medical students collected data from hospital databases to determine annual number of ED visits, ED transfers, proportion of transfers for CT scans, reasons for examinations, and transfer times from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2015. Descriptive statistics were reported as well as data quality and feasibility indicators.


Results: For each year from 2010 to 2014, there was an average of 13,341 ED visits, 444 inter-facility transfers, and 125 CT scans. Over the five years, an average of 28% of the inter-facility transfers were for CT scans, and the majority were abdominal CT scans. Inter-facility transfer data was 100% accessible through hospital databases but inter-facility transfer times and final diagnoses were not.


Conclusions: More than a quarter of inter-facility transfers were for CT imaging. The limited electronic data in this Quebec rural ED precluded analysis of inter-facility times. While further cost-benefit analysis is required, preliminary data suggests local CTs may save time, money and lives.



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