Brain Scan

Glasgow’s Western infirmary owns a £500,000 CT scanner (computerised tomography if you must know, though I am not much wiser).  Apparently it is used to scan patients’ brains if they are thought to have had a stroke.

Unfortunately it has been idle for the past six months as the radiographer who operated it left the hospital.  In one 48 hour period alone, 22 patients who could have used the equipment were transferred to other hospitals to be scanned.  It isn’t clear how many patients had to be moved because nobody was there to work it over the full 6 months; conservatively I guess it is at least 1,000.  I assume they were all transferred by ambulance and more importantly they are all unwell and in serious need of care.

The question of course is why?  Unfortunately the article doesn’t answer this.  I surmise it must be for one of two reasons; either a decision has been made not to hire a radiographer, (presumably to save money) or because they can’t recruit a suitably qualified individual.

If it is the former then this is a classic case of sub-optimisation, clearly the ambulances, drivers, waiting time and patient care are not all free.  If it is the latter then there is a serious failing in their recruitment process.

Perhaps they should give the scanner to somebody who can use it?


Image by gwire

Read the full article in the Scottish Daily Record


  1. Jason Morris says:

    In Knowledge and Decisions, Thomas Sowell talks about how access to or visibility of pricing information affects a system, and I think this is one of those cases; The department responsible for the operation of the scanner only sees their cost to train/hire another operator. They don’t see the iterations of ambulance costs, lost business/funding from machine not being used, etc..

    The person who can see/anticipate impacts beyond their silo is a rare person, in my experience.

    • James Lawther says:

      Thanks for your comment Jason, you are right, that person is a rare one. Is that because it is a very difficult thing to do, or just that we don’t show people how to do it?


      • Jason Morris says:

        Hi James,
        I think personality & giftedness probably plays a big part, but I believe that people can be trained to some degree to think beyond their own little silo.

        There’s a magazine ad that I keep that really drove home the point to me. It’s a picture of a man laying on his back on the grass with several concerned looking people gathered around him. Over to the side is a man climbing on an artificial climbing wall.

        The caption reads:
        4:26pm Craig fails to share pertinent information about the loose rock with his teammate at the Hoit Growth Center empowerment retreat.
        4:27pm This photo was taken.

        Leadership, if truly leading, could run their own sort of ‘ad campaigns’ to help create & reinforce awareness. But in addition to leadership skills, someone’s got to have some degree of awareness that its needed in the first place, which kind of brings us back to how people are both wired (and trained).

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