Incidental Findings in the Trauma Population: Interdisciplinary Approach and Electronic Medical Record Reminder Association with Pre-Discharge Reporting and Medicolegal Risk

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Background: Incidental findings (IFs) are reported in 20% or more of trauma CT scans. In addition to the importance of patient disclosure, there is considerable legal pressure to avoid missed diagnoses. We reported previously that 63.5% of IFs were disclosed before discharge and with 20% were nondisclosed. We initiated a multidisciplinary systemic plan to effect predischarge disclosure by synoptic CT reports with American College of Radiology recommended follow-up, electronic medical records discharge prompts, and provider education. Study Design: Prospective observational series patients from November 2019 to February 2020 were included. Statistical analysis was performed with SPSS, version 21 (IBM Corp). Results: Eight hundred and seventy-seven patients underwent 1 or more CT scans for the evaluation of trauma (507 were male and 370 were female). Mean age of the patients was 57 years (range 14 to 99 years) and 96% had blunt injury. In 315 patients, there were 523 IFs (1.7 per patient); the most common were lung (17.5%), kidney (13%), and liver (11%). Radiology report compliance rate was 84% (210 of 249 patients). There were 66 studies from outside facilities. Sixteen IFs were suspicious for malignancy. A total of 151 patients needed no follow-up and 148 patients needed future follow-up evaluation. Predischarge IF disclosure compliance rate was 90.1% (286 patients); 25 were post discharge. Four patients remained undisclosed. Compared with our previous report, clearer reporting and electronic medical records prompts increased predischarge disclosure from 63.5% to 90.1% (p < 0.01, chi-square test) and decreased days to notification from 29.5 (range 0 to 277) to 5.2 (range 0 to 59) (p < 0.01, Mann-Whitney U test). Conclusions: Timely, complete disclosure of IFs improves patient outcomes and reduces medicolegal risk. Collaboration among trauma, radiology, and information technology promotes improved disclosure in trauma populations.