Hamilton hospital looks to add CT scanner to ER
December 8, 2021
HAMILTON, Ont. – St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton is hoping to raise $1.4 million to bring a CT scanner into its emergency department. The demand for emergency CT scans at St. Joe’s has jumped by 13 per cent over the past year, according to chief of emergency medicine Dr. Greg Rutledge (pictured).
Dr. Rutledge said patients who currently show up in emergency and need a scan need to be transported to the diagnostic imaging department – which puts them at risk if something goes wrong during the transfer.
“So that’s taking an unstable patient and transferring them away from the nurses, away from the physicians … away from all the resources we have if something were to go awry,” he said.
“But if we’re successful in this, we can roll the patient 50 yards down the hallway and they’re in and out very quickly. And then if they’re unstable, we’ve got everybody right there that can respond to them getting further unwell.”
The CT scanner in emergency would also help address a backlog in diagnostic imaging procedures, and reduce wait times for these vital scans. It would assist with CT-guided biopsies for cancer patients and limit the need to transport patients between departments, minimizing risk of cross-contamination and preserving precious PPE.
It would also reduce ambulance offloading times – with patients who need CT scans getting admitted and discharged more quickly – and free up paramedics to respond to other emergency calls. Hamilton’s emergency and community services committee heard last month that there has been a dramatic increase in code zero events, which happen when the number of available ambulances in the city is at one or zero.
Rutledge said those offloading delays could be reduced with more bed space and that a CT scanner directly in the emergency department would help.
Dr. Colm Boylan, chief of diagnostic imaging, said St. Joe’s has one of the highest wait-lists for semi-urgent and non-urgent CT scans in the region, with wait times of about 20 days for semi-urgent patients and 60 days for non-urgent patients.
He said that’s double what the province expects the wait time for a CT scan to be.
It’s already the standard in new hospitals across Canada to build a CT suite directly into the emergency department, but no Hamilton hospital currently has that feature.
St. Joe’s already has a state-of-the-art CT Scanner on-site, they just need the funds to build a specialized home for it within the emergency department.