NQF CT patient safety measure evaluated

The National Quality Forum’s (NQF's) measure focused on CT radiation doses enables institutions to evaluate the CT doses they are using during routine practice, but requires data collection in a reasonable period of time and facilitates nationwide comparison, according to an article published in the March issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Concern over population exposure to radiation from medical imaging is exacerbated given the variation in doses from common exams across patients, providers and institutions. The NQF created a quality measure in response to this reality, which allows institutions to collect data for the optimization of radiation dose exposure. It also pools doses across the country so that CT dose benchmarks and reference levels can be made.

Lead author Jillian Keegan, of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and colleagues aimed to describe their experiences using the NQF CT dose measure in order to determine the amount of time needed to gather data and investigate how institutional review of the data enables a facility to understand doses.

The researchers utilized dose monitoring software as well as manual collection of dose metrics to fulfill the NQF’s measure during the study. They discovered that the manual data collection of 50 scans took two hours and fifteen minutes, while the software compiled all data in under an hour. Between 2010 and 2012, all dose metrics exhibited a 30 to 50 percent reduction. They also observed a significant decline and reduction in variability of doses.

“The CT radiation dose measure endorsed by the NQF provides an easy way for facilities to begin to assess dose levels used for CT imaging in practice,” wrote Keegan and colleagues. “Using the NQF dose format, we were able to easily assess CT dose metrics at UCSF over 2 time periods and identify patterns. Our data show that all dose metrics considered gave similar results.”