Case made for new CT scanner as outages add to X-ray pressures in Nelson

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A patient undergoes a CT scan. File photo
Photo: 123RF

Nelson Hospital suffers from a shortage of radiologists, high demand for services and a CT scanner that needs to be replaced due to frequent breakdowns.

RNZ revealed earlier this month that the hospital’s radiology department was one of those at medium risk not comply with IANZ international standards.

In a response to RNZ, Te Whatu Ora acknowledged that the region has a shortage of specialists, demand that exceeds supply and an eight-year-old CT scanner that has experienced several breakdowns in the past six months alone, some lasting up to at 24 hours.

Te Whatu Ora Nelson Marlborough Acting District Manager Lexie O’Shea said the scanner, which was installed in 2014, was known to break down despite regular maintenance.

She said any patients who needed scans during an outage could be imaged with another machine, sent to a private clinic or, as a last resort, they were sent out of the district.

Nelson Hospital sign

In the worst case, some patients have to travel outside of Nelson for radiology services.
Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

The Department of Health’s target for CT and MRI scans is 95% of patients seen within six weeks of accepting a referral.

“Due to a recent outage, the current CT scan wait time is a week behind the target date. MRI is even further behind after the pandemic and the department is working hard to clear the backlog and reduce wait times,” O’Shea said.

Urgent and urgent scans have always been prioritized and completed first.

In the six months ending Nov. 1, 1,861 CT scan requests were accepted and 1,859 exams were performed, while 1,100 MRI exam requests were accepted and 794 exams were performed.

Due to the demand for CT scans, O’Shea said Nelson Hospital had developed a business case to replace the existing scanner and install a second one, which would reduce the hospital’s scanning downtime.

O’Shea said overflows and after-hours reports were outsourced to several private providers.

There have been several investments in radiology equipment over the past few years, including the introduction of a $2.8 million MRI scanner in 2019 and a new suite of fluoroscopy and ultrasound machines. the next year.

All radiology equipment has undergone regular preventive maintenance by engineers either once or twice a year depending on the equipment.

While IANZ accreditation was an important indicator of the quality of its radiology services, O’Shea said it was not mandatory.

The recent IANZ accreditation result identified an area of ​​major non-compliance, the maintenance of training records for its administration teams and clinical assistant roles.

He provided additional information to IANZ and the non-compliance issue was closed on September 9.

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