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Automated brain scan detector to reduce MRI scan wait times

The technology used to identify abnormalities will be developed thanks to £1 million in funding.

The learning tool would detect illnesses earlier meaning the amount of time a patient is waiting is reduced with currently 330,000 patients in the UK waiting more than 30 days for their MRI reports.

Early detection of any abnormalities would also result in early intervention to improve the outcome for the patient.

After trials at two London hospitals, researchers at King’s College London found the detection tool would triage effectively for outpatient scans and reduce the time to report abnormal scans.

They found abnormal MRI scans were reported in five days rather than nine days in one large hospital and 14 days rather than 28 days in another large hospital.

The research is a strong first step towards automating the triage process and the aim is to improve performance accuracy in new hospitals across the UK.

Lesley Herbertson, Partner in clinical negligence at Potter Rees Dolan, said:

When dealing with serious brain or spinal injuries, the time to perform and then report on an MRI scan can make the difference between a patient either developing or avoiding long term catastrophic and life-changing physical and/or cognitive harm. So, an automated MRI brain scanning system which might lead to quicker diagnoses of the more obvious abnormalities is to be welcomed. However, some pathologies might be subtle and difficult to detect and it is going to be important that those who might be negatively triaged via the automated system, do not fall down a list of patients requiring the input of an experienced neuroradiologist.

The overall system will need to be configured so that speed is not achieved at the cost of effective, as well as timely, diagnosis of all patients with brain pathology. We deal with cases where there has been a negligent failure to make a diagnosis based upon available imagery, as humans do make errors. Any system of automated support must avoid or, at the very least reduce, any potentially life-changing errors that are already inherent within the health service and I expect that much work is being done to achieve that aim.

Lesley Herbertson is a Partner in clinical negligence here at Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about a delay in diagnosis following an MRI scan or indeed any other aspect of clinical negligence and wish to speak to Lesley or any other member of the team, please contact us on 0800 027 2557 or contact Lesley directly.