In imaging, dose issues radiate

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Kaitlyn Dmyterko - Portrait - 160.99 Kb
Kaitlyn Dmyterko,
Associate Editor

Radiation dose associated with imaging is always a hot topic in healthcare. We know the possible risks associated with radiation dose emitted through medical modalities, yet we have to trust that exposure may lead to a diagnosis or perhaps a cure. However, what happens when those risks outweigh the potential benefits?

This week, an interesting study found that giving radiologists and physicians access to patient radiation exposure histories may actually be detrimental. The authors suggested that physicians may feel they will be able to reduce the risks of previous exposure by bypassing current CT exams. They cautioned against this notion, saying that it may lead to more harm than good.

“[P]hysicians must also be careful not to misuse imaging histories in clinical decision making,” wrote Jonathan D. Eisenberg, BA, from the Institute for Technology Assessment and department of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues.

The team of researchers concluded that this information should not be factored into the decision making of the current CT scan.

While I can see where this would be a concern, I also think this information could be very beneficial, especially for facilities wanting to assess how they are doing. In fact, Bette Blankenship, MS, a medical physicist at Sharp Memorial Hospital in California, speaking to me for an upcoming article in the July issue of Cardiovascular Business, said her goal is to create a patient report card to keep track of the doses emitted per patient.

Blankenship offered that providing this report card could help track dose data across hospital sites, especially as the California Dose Reporting Law is set to go into effect July 1. Creating these types of reports will make it easier for facilities to compare dose data across scanners, facilities and other hospitals in the state. In addition, she said having these types of reports and data available will make physicians pause and ensure that they are radiating the patient more appropriately.  

What do you think?

Stay tuned for our July issue, which will discuss the California dose reporting law and how facilities in the Golden State can start prepping to meet the requirements.

Kaitlyn Dmyterko
Associate Editor, Cardiovascular Business