Helen Titus, Marketing Director, X-ray Solutions, Carestream
In 2014, the phrase “safe imaging” means more now than ever. Across the world we are seeing organizations and governments working to ensure that patients are kept safe while simultaneously ensuring that imaging quality is not compromised.
At ECR 2014, we saw the launch of EuroSafe Imaging, which works to improve safe imaging practices across Europe. In the U.S., the Image Gently campaign created by the Society of Pediatric Radiology has been a powerful movement in the U.S.’s pediatric medical imaging sector.
Now as we move toward the halfway point of 2014 we are about to see updated standards for diagnostic imaging. The Joint Commission announced these new standards at the end of 2013 and they will go into effect on July 1, 2014. Additionally, a second round of accreditation announcements will be phased in by 2015.
According to the Joint Commission, new areas addressed in the standards are:
The Society of Pediatric Radiology (SPR) has taken great measures to educate the medical imaging industry about the importance of safe imaging.
- Minimum competency for radiology technologists, including registration and certification by July 1, 2015
- Annual performance evaluations of imaging equipment by a medical physicist
- Documentation of CT radiation dose in the patient’s clinical record
- Meeting the needs of the pediatric population through imaging protocols and considering patient size or body habitus when establishing imaging protocols
- Management of safety risks in the MRI environment
- Collection of data on incidents where pre-identified radiation dose limits have been exceeded
Even with these updates to standards and creation of mission-oriented organizations there are those arguing that there is not enough being done for radiation safety.
This study conducted at Emory University’s School of Medicine says it all:
“Even though the residents believed there to be a link between radiation exposure and cancer, many of them–including radiology residents–couldn’t demonstrate knowledge related to specific estimated dose effects. For example, just 22 percent of the residents surveyed (and only 29 percent of radiology residents) could estimate the lifetime risk of cancer mortality from a single abdominal CT scan in pediatric patients.” – April 19, 2014, Mike Bassett, FierceMedicalImaging
If we are to see improvements made in radiation safety, while also providing quality imaging service to patients for the most effective care, then it all starts with education—both current and tomorrow’s radiologists. As we move forward in 2014, we must embrace the standards put in place that keep patients safe and work to stay up-to-date about why safe imaging is so valuable to our profession. It improves the radiology profession, the technologies used in medical facilities, and the care provided to the patient.