Radiology

Wait Time Benchmarks for Radiology (Diagnostic Imaging)

Indication Upper limit wait time
Priority 1
(Emergent)
Priority 2
(Urgent)
Priority 3
(Emergent)
Priority 4
(Emergent)
Priority 5
(Emergent)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography (CT) Same day–maximum 24 hours1 7 days2 30 days 60 days It is recommended to track performance against specified dates, as poor performance in P1-P4 categories may alter performance in this category, creating a serious concern in patient care for which strategies should  be developed.
Radiologist Maximum Report Turn-Around Time Immediate reporting is the expectation, with a maximum time of 1 hour for finalized report completion.

Additionally, direct verbal or immediate written communication is considered the standard of practice.

12 hours3 4 days 4 days N/A

1 For emergent/life-threatening conditions, some patients require imaging in even less than an hour and these decisions are based on the clinical team’s judgment.

2 There is a spectrum of “urgency” within the urgent category. In most instances, the exam should be completed as soon as possible after the referral is received. However, in some cases (depending on medical need as determined by the clinical team’s judgment), while the need is still urgent, a maximum wait time of seven days may be medically acceptable.

3 Depending on the clinical situation and based on medical need, direct verbal or immediate written communication may be necessary to expedite patient care in this category.

Definitions

Priority 1 (Emergent): an examination necessary to diagnose and/or treat disease or injury that is immediately threatening to life or limb.

Priority 2 (Urgent): an examination necessary to diagnose and/or treat disease or injury and/or alter treatment plan that is not immediately threatening to life or limb. Based on provided clinical information, no negative outcome related to delay in treatment is expected for the patient if the examination is completed within the benchmark period.

Priority 3 (Semi-urgent): an examination necessary to diagnose and/or treat disease or injury and/or alter treatment plan, where provided clinical information requires that the examination be performed sooner     than the P4 benchmark period.

Priority 4 (Non-urgent): an examination necessary to diagnose and/or treat disease or injury, where, based on provided clinical information, no negative long-term medical outcome related to delay in treatment is expected for the patient if the examination is completed within the benchmark period.

Specified Procedure Date: The MRI or CT Scan appointment date requested by the ordering physician for the purpose of disease surveillance.

Note: Unless specified, time refers to calendar days between decision to treat by specialist and the day treatment is received.

Related Items

Canadian Association of Radiologists Report “National Maximum Wait Time Access Targets for Medical Imaging (MRI and CT)” (2013)

Canadian Association of Radiologists Website