• AI
  • Molecular Imaging
  • CT
  • X-Ray
  • Ultrasound
  • MRI
  • Facility Management
  • Mammography

The Boxing Teleradiologist


To keep or not keep boxes from teleradiology workstations handy may boil down to an emphasis on convenience over clutter.

Punnery aside, the title of this week’s blog should by no means leave you with the notion that I have ever put on a pair of boxing gloves to take a swing at anybody. There are probably some telerads who have donned the gloves.

I do admit to having watched more than a few boxing movies and matches in my day, and indulged in flights of fantasy that my exercise regimen might be a shadow of what a fighter goes through. In other words, I can be a stereotypical male.

Today’s blog, however, is inspired by the pyramid of cardboard boxes that dwells in my home office as they have during much of my tenure as a telerad. Once the boxes have sat there long enough, they become functionally invisible to me, just like furniture sort of becomes part of a room.

They got a little more on my radar when I added to them after my smart bulb installation (see “How I Learn or Don’t Learn in Radiology”). Twenty-eight bulbs each came in their own boxes with larger boxes putting them in pairs and then there was a master box in which they were shipped. (It has me thinking of the riddle-poem about going to St. Ives.) Call me hypercautious but I keep packaging until products have proven that they aren’t defective, lest I need the boxes to make returns.

I never really developed a good system for alerting me as to when boxes have been around long enough and are thus safe to toss or use for something else. It’s part of the reason I keep them where I’m likely to be. If I stash them in a storage room of my basement, I will never think of them again.

It shouldn’t be that difficult. Amazon purchases stop being easily returned after 30 days, and most products have warranties lasting about a year. Receiving a steady parade of shipments, however, I always have something in the 30-day or 12-month window, and it all kind of blurs together.

Teleradiology boxes are a special category. Ever since I started working from home in 2011, various employers have shipped me workstation gear. With that stuff, there is no “safe” time to repurpose or ditch the boxes. The expectation is that you will be shipping everything back to the employer when you are done with one another, no matter how long it takes for that to happen. When that time comes, if you haven’t kept the boxes — and the packing material within to cradle the equipment — you have got the hassle (and possibly cost) of finding suitable replacements.

Under some circumstances, it seems a pointless exercise. If, for instance, you have been working with an outfit for 10 years, the equipment is going to have a lot of mileage on it. There may be dings, scrapes, and probably some loss of functionality for whatever reason. Meanwhile, technology has marched on and chances are excellent that the employer is sending more current gear to its new rads. How much, if any, of what the 10-year rad sends back will be any better than paperweights?

Indeed, when the time came, my longest tenure telerad gig turned out not to want their stuff back. They didn’t say that at first, of course. Initially, they casually asked if I wanted to keep any of the gear — a couple hundred bucks for a monitor for instance. When I declined, they confessed they had no use for any of it, and I should just recycle or donate the stuff as I saw fit.

Of course, by then, I had long since put their boxes into my basement storage, and their existence was off my radar as I got rid of that workstation. It wasn’t until the end of my next telerad job — when the employer did want the stuff shipped back — that I erroneously grabbed the wrong boxes and spent a decent chunk of time frustrating myself over why the employer’s computer, monitor, etc. weren’t perfectly fitting in the Styrofoam and boxes I had so carefully saved.

Long before I bring the boxes down to the basement to await the day of their return, they hang around in my home office along with the pyramid of shipping gear from Amazon and such. It’s like a purgatory for boxes. They will eventually move on to their final destination, but there’s no clear-cut timetable. When the boxes do move downstairs, it begins what I have come to think of as their Long Sleep, only to be interrupted when the workstations finally need to be shipped back.

Part of the purgatory interval is my lazy fault. “Now” never seems a good time to carry everything across the house and down the stairs. I have more excusable motives though.

In the initial weeks of using new equipment, an awful lot of things can go wrong. One or more parts may be defective or missing, ultimately requiring a prompt repackaging for return to the employer. I might have initially decided I didn’t need this piece or that and stashed it in the box for safekeeping only to later discover that I do need it. It is a lot handier to take a couple steps over to the box pyramid at such times than it is to make an excursion to the basement.

One employer set me up with two different clients, each of which had its own workstation. Credentialing could have gone better, and when the day came for me to start working, I was only going to start reading for one of the clients, so I didn’t even take the other’s workstation out of its boxes. The plan was that, when I did start using the other workstation, it would be able to access both clients, so I would just swap one out for the other.

The day came to make the swap. Of course, I had kept the boxes for the retiring workstation handy, so I carefully returned all parts to them. I extracted the new workstation, set it all up and found out that my login info didn’t work, and the person who could fix everything was out. Also, by the way, the employer wasn’t ready for me to begin reading for it after all. Thus, hours later, that workstation went back into its boxes, and the other had to be extracted for use once more.

I have had similar things occur over a more drawn-out timeframe (weeks, sometimes even a month or two, rather than hours). The pragmatic lesson learned was that it’s never a bad idea to keep my purgatory pyramid of telerad boxes in my home office for just a little bit longer, before bringing it all down to the basement. The sooner I do that, the greater the chances I will have to go and retrieve it before it enters its Long Sleep.

Recent Videos
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.