ECRI Update – Exposure hazards from radiation therapy and CT

ECRI Update

ECRI Institute and the Health Care Improvement Foundation have released the results of a Philadelphia-area regional collaborative to reduce patient risks associated with excessive radiation from CT scans. ECRI Institute has ranked exposure hazards from radiation therapy and CT among its published list of Top 10 Technology Hazards for the past five years and has a strong interest in helping healthcare organizations focus on these pressing patient safety issues.

The overarching goals of the program were to make diagnostic CT scan radiation doses as low as reasonably achievable and encourage the participating facilities to actively record and monitor. “We were pleased to see marked improvement by participating facilities in a number of significant areas including tracking radiation dose for each study, having action plans for managing excessive CT radiation dose, reducing repeat imaging studies, and increasing leadership engagement and support,” said program manager Patricia Neumann, a senior patient safety analyst at ECRI Institute.

Nearly 20 hospitals and imaging centers in the Philadelphia area participated in the one-year Partnership for Patient Care program launched by the Health Care Improvement Foundation and led by ECRI Institute from July 2011 to June 2012. The final report provides an overview of the program and improvement results.

“The collaborative process was quite eye-opening. So often we look outside of our field for solutions to our issues. ECRI Institute encouraged us to look inside at our actual practice. Once we did, the dose improvements kept coming. Actual dose reductions of 47 percent were achieved,” said Gerald Bedard, senior director of diagnostic imaging, Grand View Hospital.

“The Chester County Hospital CT team worked in conjunction with the ECRI Institute collaborative to improve patient safety and reduce CT radiation dose across all radiology sites,” said Steven Borislow, MD, depart-ment of radiology, The Chester County Hospital and Health System. “Our CT team implemented strategies that were defined in the action goals of the program. We are proud of the accomplishments that we have achieved through this collaboration and we will continue to strive to perform CT scans at radiation doses that are as low as reasonably achievable.”

Participating facilities took a confidential survey to assess CT scanning services at the start of the program and again at the end to assess improvement. Some of the most notable improvements include the following:

  • 87 percent improvement in tracking of CT radiation doses for each study
  • 64 percent improvement in having an action plan in place for managing excessive CT radiation when it occurs
  • 55 percent improvement in auditing of CT doses

“These statistics are significant because CT radiation dose can result in unnecessarily high exposures, placing patients at increased risk of cancer and other conditions. These facilities are taking important steps to reduce the risks for their patients,” said Jason Launders, ECRI Institute’s director of operations and one of the medical imaging advisors for the program.

The program included reporting of CT radiation dose data, educational seminars, assistance in implementing action goals, and participation in the collaborative website.