We have all been to an appointment only to discover a waiting room packed with people and a seemingly endless delay before being seen. Here at Cincinnati Children’s, we are constantly collecting data, creating new processes and evaluating each step along the way to ensure there is never any useless sitting around. The MRI Division even has a couple of roles (the MRI Charge Tech and Patient Flow Coordinator) whose sole jobs are to keep the schedule moving forward. Some of you may be wondering, “well, why was there a wait for my MRI appointment?”. No matter how hard we strive to be prepared for every situation, unfortunately, unexpected setbacks do occur. Here is a list of the most common causes for delays:
- An emergent case must be completed – Although MRIs are not typically utilized for trauma situations (like CT or X-ray), we do still have certain cases which call for a timely set of images. Some of these cases include (but are not limited to) suspected strokes, suspected spinal cord compressions and patients needing to go to surgery as soon as possible. The severity of these cases may cause an interruption in the schedule if the MRI department is having a busy day. We try our absolute best to shift and adjust cases in the most convenient way possible; with minimal effect to those with appointments already scheduled.
- Late arrivals – We understand life has a way of disrupting even the most perfect set of plans. Because of this understanding, we try to be flexible with patients who cannot make it to their appointment on time. Sometimes weather throws you a curveball, traffic impedes your progress or other appointments prevent you from getting to your scheduled MRI appointment. If the schedule load for that day is rather light, we can usually fit late patients at a different time. When the day is completely packed it becomes near impossible to make any sort of adjustments. The best thing you can do as a patient is to notify us of the delay as soon as you can.
- Each patient is an individual – With each unique individual patient who comes to the MRI department also comes a unique individual situation. What might seem like a simple task to one patient (walking back to the department, changing clothes or getting an IV placed), might be a huge hurdle for someone else. We are very lucky to have a plethora of resources to overcome these hurdles (such as Child Life, Vascular Access Team, etc.), but with each resource utilized it also adds a bit of time to the overall appointment. Ultimately, the department is more than happy to do whatever it takes to ensure a smooth experience and if something seems works out well a copious number of notes are taken to better prepare for the next visit. Any form of notification about resources which will be needed for your appointment, prior to your arrival, will enable a quicker visit and is always greatly appreciated.
There may be a handful of other unforeseen situations which may cause a delay in the MRI schedule, but those mentioned above are the most common causes for setbacks throughout the day. Once again, we are constantly brainstorming to overcome these speedbumps in the future. If anything comes to mind, please feel free to give us your feedback in the Patient Experience Survey. We welcome your solutions.
Contributions by Alyssa Collins, (Coordinator-CT/MR).