IT tagging system provides follow-up for unexpected findings

March 22, 2006

Vendors could easily integrate a safety net into PACS and RIS that protects patients from patient mismanagement, saving lives and avoiding malpractice suits due to medical error.

Vendors could easily integrate a safety net into PACS and RIS that protects patients from patient mismanagement, saving lives and avoiding malpractice suits due to medical error.

Such a system, devised and implemented at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, kept five cancer patients from falling through the cracks during a 12-month period, according to results to be published in the April issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

The system was developed in collaboration between the Ann Arbor VA and University of Michigan. It consists of codes, or "electronic tags," that radiologists assign to medical images. A "Code 8" tag means the radiologist has spotted an unexpected sign of cancer that requires immediate follow-up by the patient's own physician.

Current PACS and RIS could be modified by simply adding space for a patient code. Institutions might choose from a menu of several codes.

Editor's Note: What these codes might be, how the system is implemented, and its potential impact on patient care and the institutions that provide it will be detailed in the April 3 issue of DI SCAN.