Workflow interruptions -- and their effects on medical error rates -- have been analyzed and studied in numerous healthcare settings. But the impact of these interruptions isn't as well understood in subspecialty services such as diagnostic radiology, according to the team led by Dr. John-Paul Yu, PhD.
The workflow of the on-call radiologist is often disrupted by telephone calls and other forms of communication with other physicians, so the researchers sought to determine the absolute frequency of interruptions being experienced in the call room, Yu said. The team gathered and analyzed an annotated list of telephone encounters over 13 weeks in 2012.
During that period, 10,378 telephone calls were completed during on-call hours. Of these, 55% were incoming calls. A typical 12-hour overnight on-call shift experienced an average of 72 calls, with an average time of 108 minutes spent on the phone.
"The on-call radiologist is interrupted disturbingly often and this has tremendous implications for patient care," Yu told AuntMinnie.com. "More research, clearly, needs to be done to tease out exactly the degree to which this affects how we do our job, and what can be done to address the problem. We're exploring both of these at our institution right now and hope to publish our work soon."