St James’s Hospital Works with Cerner to Help Reduce Patient Exposure to Unnecessary Radiation

09 September 2009

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St. James’s Hospital Works with Cerner to Help Reduce Patient Exposure to Unnecessary Radiation
First-of-its kind decision-support feature in the electronic patient record could reduce number of CT scans ordered for patients, decreasing harmful radiation levels

DUBLIN — 9 Sept. 2009 — Although CT scans have revolutionised radiologists’ ability to diagnose disease, the rising use of CT scans also brings a potential risk. When medically necessary, detailed CT scans can help radiologists detect problems that would not be apparent using less sophisticated images created by a traditional X-ray. Compared to traditional imaging methods, however, CT scans have the potential to expose patients to much higher levels of radiation. A 2007 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that higher exposure to radiation as a result of unnecessary CT scans could increase a patient’s lifetime risk of developing cancer.

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Working together with Cerner, a leading global provider of healthcare solutions, St. James’s Hospital is the first hospital in Ireland to use a proactive decision-support system within its electronic patient record (EPR) to help reduce the number of unnecessary CT pulmonary angiogram (CTPA) studies performed on its patients, thus decreasing their exposure to unnecessary radiation.

“Advances in medical technology are only beneficial to the patient when used appropriately,” said Dr Mary Keogan, St. James’s Hospital Director of Radiology. “By using these unique decision-support features within our Cerner Millennium® electronic patient record, our aim is to ensure our patients are receiving appropriate care, and to reduce the radiation exposure and expense associated with potentially unnecessary imaging procedures.”

Leadership at St. James’s asked Cerner if there was a way to incorporate a checklist based on the Wells criteria, which is used to determine the appropriateness of a CTPA study, into its Cerner Millennium EPR. An alert was created within the Cerner Discern Advisor™ clinical decision support solution that prompts doctors to complete the Wells criteria checklist before they can order a CTPA scan for a patient.

“By weeding out unnecessary CTPA scans, the decision-support feature also could help decrease wait times for all patients needing access to available CT scanning services offered by St. James’s,” said Amanda Green, Cerner Ireland managing director. “Reducing these unnecessary medical procedures also could save money in the long run.”

St. James’s has used Cerner Millennium solutions to automate processes in its radiology department since 2006. These Cerner® solutions have improved radiologists’ overall productivity by 12 percent by decreasing the amount of time it takes for radiologists to access imaging studies and by enabling them to view images more efficiently. Patients also have benefited from St. James’s use of Cerner solutions. Lost radiology films have been completely eliminated since St. James’s began using Cerner solutions. Due to the time savings gained from tracking down lost X-rays, St. James’s has been able to increase the number of patients it sees in its weekly trauma clinics by almost 50 percent. Patients also are receiving their X-ray results in a matter of hours now instead of days.

About Cerner
Cerner is transforming healthcare by eliminating error, variance and waste for healthcare providers and consumers around the world. Cerner® solutions optimize processes for healthcare organizations ranging in size from single-doctor practices, to health systems, to entire countries, for the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, and for the healthcare commerce system. These solutions are licensed by more than 8,000 facilities around the world, including approximately 2,100 hospitals; 3,300 physician practices covering more than 30,000 physicians; 500 ambulatory facilities, such as laboratories, ambulatory centers, cardiac facilities, radiology clinics and surgery centers; 600 home-health facilities; and 1,500 retail pharmacies. The following are trademarks of Cerner: Cerner and Cerner’s logo. Nasdaq: CERN. For more information about Cerner, please visit our Web site at

About St James’s Hospital
St. James’s Hospital is the largest acute teaching general hospital in the Republic of Ireland and was established in its present form in 1971. There is a strong academic affiliation with Trinity College, Dublin - the Trinity Health Sciences Centre having opened on the hospital’s campus in 1994. St. James’s Hospital has 963 beds and 4,097 staff based on a 60-acre campus. Last year, almost 300,000 patients were treated at St. James’s Hospital as inpatients and at the Outpatients, Daycare and Emergency Departments. Tertiary care is also provided to hospitals outside the catchment area. The DiagIm Directorate (Radiology) provides a complete imaging service to St. James’s Hospital across all modern imaging modalities including General Radiology, Maxillo-Facial, Gastro-Intestinal, Urology, Mammography, Ultrasound, C.T. (including Cardiac), Interventional Radiology (Therapeutic and Diagnostic), Nuclear Medicine including PET-CT, and MRI at 1.5T and 3T.
A radiographic service is also supplied to Coronary Angio Lab, Endovascular Suite, Theatres and Healthcare Centre Screening Unit services to the Hospital and to GP’s in the local catchment area.