A large team of Texas radiologists are using a new reporting mechanism to make it easier to monitor and follow up on patients with accidental findings, according to a case study released on Saturday.
Improved imaging resolutions and utilization rates have contributed to an increase in incidental findings, with some estimates suggesting that up to 20% of exams contain pancreatic incidentalomas. The follow-up of these patients also varies, which can lead to diagnostic delays and poor outcomes.
In an attempt to solve this problem, the researchers implemented a discrete field in structured radiology reports that automatically flagged accidental pancreatic cysts in the electronic health record. And the tool was a big success, the team noted on July 17 in JACR.
Patients with reported reports were more likely to be seen or discussed in the organization’s dedicated pancreas clinic (50.3% vs. 16.7% of unreported reports) and more likely to receive follow-up imaging ( 50% against 25.5%).
The model is easily reproducible, the authors note, and, because of its advantages, has already been applied to other results.
“Based on the success of this initial application, we received requests from other departments to implement similar discrete reporting fields and were able to successfully replicate this design for reporting accidental adrenal injury,” William C. Smith, MD, a radiologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues added.