Patients Miss Timely Follow-up After Abnormal Chest CT

March 21, 2016

Abnormal findings on lung cancer screening CT not always followed up in a timely manner.

Patients with abnormal results on chest CT screenings do not always receive timely follow-up, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston performed a study to determine the proportion of patients who received timely follow-up, defined as within 30 days of recommendation, after screening chest CTs detected an abnormality. Data from 376 patients were examined; 337 (90%) had abnormal chest CT findings and 184 (55%) had specific follow-up recommendations.

The results showed that only 102 of the 184 patients (55%) with recommendations received follow-up within 30 days. Patients who were most likely to be seen within the 30 days were those whose CTs were performed to evaluate pulmonary disease and those receiving care in community health centers. Twenty-seven patients were newly diagnosed with lung cancer; 18 (67%) had their first oncology visit within 30 days of diagnosis.

“Systems to support patients in obtaining recommended follow-up are needed to ensure that the benefits of lung cancer screening translate into usual clinical practice,” the authors wrote.