Evaluating delays for emergent CT scans from a rural British Columbia hospital

CJEM. 2021 Jun 22. doi: 10.1007/s43678-021-00147-2. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVES: Computed Tomography (CT) scans help diagnose and triage life-threatening and time-sensitive emergency conditions, but most rural hospitals in British Columbia do not have access to a local CT scanner. We investigate how many transfers from a rural British Columbia hospital were for CT scans and describe the time delays to emergent CT imaging.

METHODS: This was a prospective cohort study, over a 1-year period, on all patients requiring a transfer from the Golden and District Hospital, located 247 km from the closest CT scanner. Data collection forms were completed prospectively and the main measurements included age, transport triage level, reason for transfer, referral hospital, transfer request time, and CT scan time. The time interval between the CT request and CT imaging was calculated and represents the ‘delay to CT scan’ interval.

RESULTS: The study hospital received 8672 emergency department (ED) visits and 220 were transferred to referral centres (2.5%). 61% of all transfers received a CT scan. Transfers for time-sensitive emergencies took an average of 6 h 52 min. Patients with acute stroke experienced a 4 h 44 min time interval. Less urgent and non-urgent conditions entailed an even greater time delay.

CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights that the lack of a rural CT scanner is associated with increased transfers and significant time delays. Improving access to CT scanners for rural communities may be one of the many steps in addressing healthcare disparities between rural and urban communities.

PMID:34156667 | DOI:10.1007/s43678-021-00147-2