CT dose notification, alerts negligibly affect workflow

The use of CT dose notification and alert values in clinical practice has a negligible impact on workflow in clinical practice, according to a study published online Mar. 20 by the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Monitoring radiation dose has become a vital practice in imaging to ensure that patients are receiving the lowest dose possible to avoid future injuries. In addition to use of diagnostic reference levels, a set of recommendations and standards for dose has been developed so that technologists are alerted to inadvertently high dose levels emitted by scanners.

These dose notifications and alerts are being implemented by clinical practices and, “An important aspect of this integration is monitoring of notification and alert event logs so that exam protocols, technologist practices, or the programmed notification and alert values can be adjusted to fit the needs of specific patient demographics and exam types,” wrote author Cynthia H. McCollough, PhD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues.

The authors examined data from five diagnostic clinical CT scanners that were programmed with values recommended by the American Association of Physics in Medicine to understand the impact of notification and alert value use on workflow.

During the study period of February to September 2012, 11,384 patients were scanned on the five systems. Of these scans, 1.2 percent triggered a notification, mainly due to bolus tracking or large patient size. The protocols that triggered the notifications most often included CT angiography of the chest for pulmonary emboli.

“Implementing the use of notification and alert values was not considered to be difficult by our technologists; it is imperative, however, that adequate education is provided and an operating procedure is developed so that technologists know that it is acceptable to proceed with a study in a large patient with CTDIvol that exceed notification values,” wrote McCollough and colleagues.