Background: Trauma care is often delivered to unstable patients with incomplete medical histories, under time pressure, and with a need for multidisciplinary collaboration. Trauma patient flow through radiology is particularly prone to deviations from optimal care. A better understanding of this process could reduce errors and improve quality, flow, and patient outcomes. Study Design: Disruptions to the flow of trauma care during trauma activations were observed over a 10-week period at a level I trauma center. Using a validated data collection tool, the type, nature, and impact of disruptions to the care process were recorded. Two physicians unaffiliated with the study conducted a post hoc, blinded review of the flow disruptions and assigned a clinical impact score to each. Results: There were 581 flow disruptions observed during the radiologic care of 76 trauma patients. An average of 30.5 minutes (95% CI, 27-34; median, 29; interquartile range, 20-38) was spent in the CT scanner, with a mean of 14.5 flow disruptions per hour (95% CI, 11.8-17.2). Coordination problems (34%), communication failures (19%), interruptions (13%), patient-related factors (12%), and equipment issues (8%) were the most frequent disruption types. Flow disruptions with the highest clinical impact were generally related to patient movements while in the scanner, problems with ordering systems, equipment unavailability, and ineffective teamwork. Conclusions: Although flow disruptions cannot be eliminated completely, specific targeted interventions are available to address the issues identified.
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