CT scan waiting times and cost analysis for adult patients presenting at a tertiary hospital in South Africa

Mehtar, Aadila
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There has been a significant increase in the number of computed tomography (CT) scans requested and performed at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital (CHBAH) with a growing concern about the increased length of time patients wait for diagnostic imaging at this Hospital. AIM: This study aims to calculate the average waiting time for CT scans in adult in-patients and to correlate this to the cost per day of hospital stay. METHOD: A retrospective study was performed to evaluate the hospital in-patient records at CHBAH of adults booked for scans from January 2013 to June 2013. Request forms were analysed to ascertain the waiting time in days. This was correlated with the date of CT scan, the cost per day of hospital stay, which was adopted from a standardised costing model. RESULTS: 787 record forms were reviewed. The average waiting time for patients was 11 days (±7). The average cost of hospital stay was estimated at R34 111 (±R21 707). National core standards for health institutions in South Africa recommend a target hospital stay of 5 days. There was a 100% correlation between the cost of hospital stay and waiting time with rising costs being directly proportional to the increased length of stay. CONCLUSION: The average basic cost of hospital stay due to prolonged length of stay was R34 111 (±R21 707), which translates to R26, 845,357 over the 6 month study period. This could be utilised better to invest in human resources, equipment and IT infrastructure in the public sector to meet the demands of a system under severe constraint. Reduced waiting times should continue to be a vital part of quality improvement efforts to ensure measurable improvement in service delivery and patient care in the public sector.
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Medicine in Diagnostic Radiology Johannesburg, 2019