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Outpatient Imaging Efficiency

What is a Diagnostic Imaging?  Diagnostic imaging refers to technologies that doctors use to create an image of the inside of the human body.  The images are used to help doctors gather information about certain medical conditions.  A variety of machines and techniques can create pictures of the structures and activities going on inside your body.  The technology your doctor uses will depend on your symptoms and the part of your body being examined.  X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, bone density tests, mammography, nuclear medicine scans, and ultrasonography are common types of diagnostic imaging.


The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have developed quality measure reporting programs for use in diverse healthcare settings to provide more efficient and higher quality healthcare to Medicare beneficiaries.  The Outpatient Imaging Efficiency measures (OIE) are important for public reporting because of the health risks and financial implications associated with the over-use of imaging procedures.  


The goals of the OIE measures are:

  • To educate patients, increase awareness, and inform decisions, and
  • To increase understanding of potential health risks including exposure to unnecessary radiation and/or contrast materials and care not consistent with guidelines.


The two new Outpatient Imaging Efficiency (OIE) measures listed below address important patient safety concerns related to exposure to unnecessary radiation and/or contrast materials resulting from inappropriate exams.  A lower rate in each of the two OIE measures indicates better performance. 


OP-14: Simultaneous Use of Brain Computed Tomography (CT) and Sinus Computed Tomography (CT)

A CT of the head is often ordered in addition to a CT of the sinuses because headache is a common symptom related to sinusitis.  Having both tests done is sometimes an unnecessary duplication of testing because the standard head CT area extends from the skull base to the crown of the skull, and a large portion of the paranasal sinuses are already covered.



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OP-15: Use of Brain Computed Tomography (CT) in the Emergency Department for Atraumatic Headache

Headache is a frequent reason for patients to present to the Emergency Department, and physicians in the ED may be inclined to use CT scans unnecessarily for the sake of time and caution.  The National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (2010) results found that in 2007, a CT scan occurred in 13.9% of the estimated 117 million ED visits in the United States.  Of these CT scans, 48% were head CTs (approximately 7.8 million).



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Baystate Medical Center 

BMC wants to make sure that the right test is given to the right patient at the right time, every time, and we constantly review our practices to improve the quality of care we provide to our patients.


Baystate Medical Center’s Department of Radiology is performing below national, regional, and state levels for each of the OIE measures (lower is better).  These excellent results highlight our continuous focus on patient safety and quality improvement. 



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