Why do some PACS workstations have 4 monitors?

As facilities migrate toward PACS one of the key decisions that must be made is the monitor configuration. Most facilities that are going to PACS now will opt for 2 high resolution monitors and 1 regular monitor for worklist. At some older facilities such as the Baltimore VA Medical Center (one of the first sites to go live with PACS) you will still find 4 monitor workstations or 4+1 monitor workstations. This is partially legacy from the first generation of PACS systems. When the PACS was installed at the Baltimore VA in 1993 it was originally supposed to have 8 monitors in 2 rows of 4 to replicate a light box. A light box used to hold the film while a radiologist read them and it could typically hold 8 sheets of film at a time. Because of budget constraints one row of monitors was eliminated, leaving 4 monitors which is what was delivered.

So in 2006 PACS software has come in to its own and does not need more than 2 high resolution monitors. Software has overcome virtually any reason to need 4 monitors. If your PACS still wants 4 monitors you should look long and hard at alternatives the next time you are considering a major upgrade or the purchase of a new system.

The bottom line: There was no workflow reason for 4 monitors.

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