Many of us have become numbed by the PACS crash. Yes, it can ruin our day and prevent us from completing our work. And, it can cause us to finish up work late. As well, we joke about it as just another technical glitch that we have come to expect. However, there are real-world ramifications to the PACs crash that we don’t discuss but should take a bit more seriously. For this reason, we should have vigorous backups and supports for the systems. Here are some of the potential tragic issues that patients, physicians, and radiologists can face.
I don’t know about you. But, when I am in the zone, I use all my search patterns and am thorough, going through all the anatomy that I need. But, when the PACs crashes in the middle of a case, you lose track of where you were. Well, that’s when bad things happen. You lose your train of thought. Perhaps, you forget to look at the adrenal glands or the spleen. It is now that radiologists miss critical findings that can be detrimental to their patients.
Even worse, when the PACS crashes at nighttime, the ER can bombard you with loads of phone calls and prevent you from getting a wink of sleep. When you wake up the next day, you are barely awake. It’s a setup to missing even more findings!
Incomplete Information Leading To Bad Treatments
Unable to pull up priors or histories? Well, you know what they say: Garbage In. Garbage Out! That PACS crash can cause incomplete reports that won’t even answer the question that the clinician asked. This lack of information can lead to patient disasters and poor outcomes. How is the poor radiologist to know the diagnosis of the patient when there is no history anywhere?
Significant Loss Of Revenue For The System
If you can’t dictate, you can’t get paid. PACS crashes can lead to problems with demographics and matching patients to studies. And that’s only the beginning. Depending on the severity, it’s possible to lose tens of thousands of dollars with a long-term PACS crash. A PACS crash can cut the imaging center or hospital’s bottom line!
Angry Physicians And Patients
And then there is the ill will you build with the patients and clinicians. Who wants to return to an institution with delays and constant technical malfunctions. What’s the point when they can go to the institution down the street? It is tough to build back goodwill once it is lost.
Inability To Make Emergency Diagnoses
Hemorrhagic strokes, appendicitis, and more significant disease entities can cause morbidity and mortality. We, as radiologists, find these entities all the time. And every second counts. When you lose your PACS system, you lose those valuable seconds to save a life potentially.
Potential Legal Ramifications
Even when the system comes back up, everyone is on the hook. All the misses, delays, and anger can cause lawsuits and the potential for long hours with an attorney. Not to mention all the legal fees your practice can rack up when dealing with the misdiagnoses and angry patients you could not help because of a PACS crash.
Loss Of Confidence In The System
Finally, PACS crashes can cause lost confidence in the system. These systems can be a hospital, imaging center, or clinic. Anytime you lose information, you lose trust. These patients may never come back to your department again if the PACS system does not work. It can be a permanent loss!
A PACS Crash Can Be Devastating!
Most tend to make fun of the ineptitudes of information technology and the folks staffing them. However, there is a real-world consequence when the PACS goes down. Patients can get hurt, and we have the potential to be at fault legally. Physicians and referrers struggle. And, the radiologists can look like fools. So, the next time your hospital looks for a PACS system, make sure to get involved and find a reliable and redundant system. The last problem we need is another PACS crash!