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ECRI Institute Service to Address CT Radiation Dose Safety
Date:11/8/2010

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa., Nov. 8, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Keeping radiation dose in check is a top safety concern for today's hospitals, particularly in computed tomography (CT), which has undergone some significant technological advances in the last ten years. The down side is that CT delivers some of the highest radiation doses in diagnostic radiology.

Failing to implement measures for delivering the appropriate radiation dose can result in unnecessarily high exposures, placing patients at increased risk of cancer and other injuries. A recent New York Times article (July 31, 2010) addresses some of these rare but serious incidents.

So, how can hospitals take action now to ensure they are not exposing patients to dangerous levels of radiation?

Answering this question is complicated, and can even be counterintuitive, according to ECRI Institute (www.ecri.org), an independent, nonprofit organization that researches the best approaches to patient care. While a high level of radiation puts patients at risk, too little could affect image quality—possibly resulting in misdiagnosis or the need for patients to be rescanned and exposed to even more radiation.

To help healthcare facilities ensure their CT radiation dosages are at a safe level, ECRI Institute has introduced a CT Radiation Dose Safety Review service.

ECRI Institute's multidisciplinary experts, including medical physicists who specialize in diagnostic imaging, conduct a thorough assessment of a hospital's CT service, including current policy and procedures, staff, and technologies. Then, they identify vulnerabilities in safety and quality, and help implement changes to minimize the likelihood of patient harm from excessive radiation dosage.

"We're identifying safety concerns with a hospital's current CT service, then working with its staff to establish a practical solution based on that specific facility's operations," says Rohit Inamdar, Senior Associate and Medical Physicist, ECRI Institute. "We want hospitals and the physicians who conduct CT procedures to be confident that they are protecting patients from excessive radiation while still providing quality images."

CT scans offer exquisite images of human anatomy, including the beating heart. These images help physicians diagnose and guide treatment for stroke, cancers and more. And, new applications of CT scans, including virtual colonoscopy, brain perfusion and lung screening, continue to develop.

This is why hospitals should take action now, says Jason Launders, MSc., Senior Project Officer and Medical Physicist, ECRI Institute. "CT provides precise images and tremendous benefits to patients. But, neglecting the radiation dose will, without a doubt, lead to unnecessary and unwanted consequences."

Development of the CT Radiation Dose Safety Review service is the latest in ECRI Institute's initiatives to keep CT radiation dosage at safe levels. In April, the organization released a Health Devices guidance article, "CT Radiation Dose: Understanding and Controlling the Risks," aimed at helping users strike the delicate balance between too much and not enough radiation.

For more information about ECRI Institute's CT Radiation Dose Safety Reviews, call (610) 825-6000, x5277, or e-mail consultants@ecri.org.

ECRI Institute, a nonprofit organization, dedicates itself to bringing the discipline of applied scientific research to healthcare to discover which medical procedures, devices, drugs, and processes are best to enable improved patient care. As pioneers in this science for more than 40 years, ECRI Institute marries experience and independence with the objectivity of evidence-based research. Strict conflict-of-interest guidelines ensure objectivity. ECRI Institute is designated a Collaborating Center of the World Health Organization and an Evidence-based Practice Center by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. ECRI Institute PSO, listed as a federally certified Patient Safety Organization by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, strives to achieve the highest levels of safety and quality in healthcare by collecting and analyzing patient safety information and sharing lessons learned and best practices. Visit www.ecri.org.


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