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FROM UVA RADIOLOGY & MEDICAL IMAGING

ER X-ray Upgrade Saves Precious Seconds

Upward facing photo of a team of doctors rush a patient to the ER

If you’re in the Emergency Room Trauma Bay, seconds matter. A simple X-ray upgrade is saving valuable time and allowing patients to receive life-saving care faster.


 

Emergencies Mean X-rays, Stat.

When a patient comes to the hospital after a trauma (like a car crash, penetrating wound, or a fall), the rescue team immediately takes them to a Trauma Bay where they check for collapsed lungs. If they need to put in a chest tube, they also must check to see that it’s in the right place and working correctly. In short, they need to take an X-ray before they take the patient for a CT scan to check for other internal damage.

The Old Way of Doing Things

Here’s what used to happen when a patient comes to the Trauma Bay:

The patient came in lying in a trauma stretcher. The X-ray technologist would place a special board underneath the stretcher directly under the patient’s chest. They would then take the X-ray. Quickly, they’d grab the board, run to a nearby computer, insert the board into the reader, wait for the X-ray to load, then view the X-ray with the doctors peering over their shoulder, trying to get a good view of the image on a very small screen.

Sometimes, the board wasn’t in the right spot and the X-ray wouldn’t show the doctors what they needed to see.

“With these, you can’t just reposition and retake. You have to take the board out [from underneath the patient], take it over to the reader, put it in, read it, and realize ‘Oh no! I missed it!’” said Bob Hunsberger, Chief Imaging Technologist. If this happens, the technologist has to take the board out of the reader, reposition it under the patient, and take another X-ray — all the while hoping that it turns out better than the first. It’s inefficient and costs valuable time.

A computer station in the radiology department

 

X-ray Upgrade Helping Save Lives

The upgrade is threefold. First, they are getting a bigger board. It’s 17in x 17in instead of the 14in x 17in one they are using now. This means a greater chance of capturing what the doctors need to see.

A graphic comparing two differently-sized x-ray boardsSecond, everything is going digital. No longer do they have to remove the board and load it into the reader. It now automatically shows up on the screen within seconds of taking the X-ray.

Third, the X-rays show on a large TV monitor in addition to the computer screen. This way, doctors don’t have to crowd around, squint their eyes, or look over someone’s shoulder to see clearly.

“This means they’ll get to CT faster. [The doctors] see the images faster and intervene if they have to,” Hunsberger said.

These timely changes are saving those crucial seconds and helping doctors make those life-saving decisions faster than ever.

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