ACR Presents Strategies For Reducing Radiation Dose, Unnecessary Imaging

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imageRepresentatives from the American College of Radiology last week outlined strategies for transforming computed tomography (CT) technology and its use to minimize medical radiation. The representatives made their presentations at the National Institutes of Health "Summit to Focus on Management of Radiation Dose in Computerized Tomography – Emphasis Toward the Sub-mSv CT Exam.”

Addressing attendees of the National Institutes of Health “Summit to Focus on Management of Radiation Dose in Computerized Tomography-Emphasis Toward the Sub-mSvCT Exam”, ACR Board of Chancellors Chair John A. Patti, MD, noted that government entities, manufacturers, and imaging providers must commit to working more closely together to arrive at quality-based imaging utilization and safety policies to ensure that patients receive safe, high-caliber care. “Imaging exams save millions of lives each year, and scans are directly linked to longer life expectancy and declining death rates,” he asserts. “The responsible use of radiation is essential to continuing these patient benefits.”

Discussing the role of the ACR accreditation program in reducing overall dose and improving quality moving forward, James A. Brink, MD, chair of the ACR Body Imaging Commission, deems the inclusion of image quality requirements in accreditation requirements a prerequisite to taking serious steps to raising and maintaining quality and safety in medical imaging. “ACR accreditation decreases duplicate scans and unnecessary radiation exposure by requiring basic physician training standards for imaging providers, regular surveys of scanners by a medical physicist, and certification of radiologic technologists,” he points out.

Panelists also touched on the value of the ACR CT Dose Index Registry and decision support systems in avoiding unnecessary imaging. The registry allows facilities to submit anonymous patient dose information for each CT exam and compare their doses against national benchmarks. The system alerts them when thresholds are exceeded. “This registry provides ongoing feedback that can help providers ensure, over the long term, that their patients receive optimal radiation dose,” notes Richard L. Morin, PhD, chair of the ACR Safety Committee.

Computerized decision support software, based on ACR Appropriateness Criteria®, help physicians prescribe the most appropriate scan for the patient’s condition and reduce unnecessary exams. These systems can educate providers and help ensure proper imaging without taking important decisions out of providers’ hands.

“Accreditation, decision support systems and the CT dose registry programs can reduce adverse events, unwarranted radiation exposure and unnecessary cost if Congress would vote to require all imaging providers — including hospitals — to participate in them,” Patti asserts. “Now, when imaging providers and government agencies are coming together to arrive at better imaging policy, is the time for Congress to act to require participation in these programs and help ensure quality and safety of medical imaging care.”