Dose-management software improves performance of CT techs

Dose-management software does the job when the job is monitoring CT technologists in real time to sharpen their attentiveness to radiation exposure.

The results show up in the form of fewer dose notifications due to human error than tallied without the software, according to a study conducted in Switzerland and posted online ahead of print in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Led by Christina Heilmaier, MD, researchers at Triemli Hospital in Zurich analyzed dose data from two CT machines—one scanning mainly routine outpatients, the other mainly emergency and ICU patients—before and after implementation of the software.

The before group comprised 3,214 exams; the after, 3,199.

The software helped cut the overall dose-notification almost in half, pushing it from 210 human-error alerts in the before group (6.5 percent) down to 120 in the after (3.8 percent).

The notifications were mainly spurred by patient miscentering (45 percent before, 23 percent after), overweight patients (35 percent before, 49 percent after) and scanning repetition (10 percent before, 15 percent after).

While dose notifications due to overweight patients and scanning repetition were higher in the after group, the relative values of the differences were statistically insignificant.

Meanwhile, miscentering was more often seen on the routine CTs than the emergency exams—and it was much less of a problem in the after group (94 instances before, 27 after).

Among the study’s limitations were that its CT machines were from a single vendor and that the researchers could not rule out the possibility that some notifications traced not to just one factor but to combinations of two or more.

In their discussion, Heilmaier et al. note that, in contrast to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association’s free-for-downloading Dose Check, “in which technologists are informed before the acquisition when scanning settings would likely exceed predefined dose thresholds, the recently launched dose management software programs offer detailed dose data on completion of acquisition.”

They conclude the results of their study show that “the implementation of real-time monitoring of patient dose with dose management software increases CT technologists’ dose awareness and leads to a reduced number of dose notifications due to human error.”