U. Iowa research improves health care delivery for children

Having a young child scheduled for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scan to diagnose a potentially serious condition can be worrying for parents. Adding to the anxiety is the fact that these scans often are done under general anesthetic to ensure that young children remain motionless and calm.

Under these circumstances, the last thing a nervous parent needs is a delay in the scheduled start time of the scan. Apart from the increased anxiety caused by waiting, there also is the practical consideration of a young child having to go without food or drink, a pre-anesthesia requirement, for longer than necessary.

At UI Hospitals and Clinics, efforts aimed at improving scheduling for these anesthetic procedures uncovered unexpected and fundamental problems in predicting case durations. UI researchers have now figured out the cause of this troublesome patient scheduling problem, and have determined and implemented a solution that has improved delivery of health care for pediatric patients. The results of the study were published in the May issue of Anesthesia and Analgesia.

Despite a perception that it should be fairly easy to accurately predict how long these diagnostic scans will take, the UI operations research team led by Franklin Dexter, M.D., Ph.D., UI professor of anesthesia in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, found that estimates for the duration of an MRI or CT with anesthesia were strikingly inaccurate more inaccurate than estimates of notoriously unpredictable surgery times.

"This was very unexpected because while we know that it is very hard to accurately predict how long a surgery will take, we assumed that it would be easy to predict how long a CT or MRI under anesthesia would take. However, we found that was not the case," Dexter said.

Having discovered this surprising problem, Dexter and Jack Yue, Ph.D., an ecological statistician at National Chengchi University

Contact: Jennifer Brown
University of Iowa

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