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UVMC Imaging Professionals Focus on Radiation Safety

Radiation Safety
Kerri Shade, a CT technologist at UVMC, works with the CT scanner.

Imaging professionals at Upper Valley Medical Center (UVMC) have joined those from among the Premier Health Partners (PHP) facilities to ensure all steps possible are being taken to reduce radiation exposure to patients seeking imaging services.

The professionals from UVMC, Atrium, Miami Valley Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital have been meeting since early this year, standardizing policies and practices, said Christine Maher, UVMC Supervisor of Diagnostic Imaging Services.

The team members from UVMC include Maher, Barb Heins, RT (RCT), and Jacqui Rose, UVMC Director of Imaging.

Recent overexposures that occurred in California and other states relating to CT scans were the driving force behind this review team initiative, Maher said. 

“It drove us to standardize our policies and practices and collaborate on best practices,” she said.

The bottom line for the group, Heins said, “is to make sure we are protecting the public.  UVMC has always followed a strict practice to protect the public from unnecessary radiation exposure.”

Among the areas currently being reviewed are:

  • Training processes for new staff and ongoing education.
  • Annual competencies for technologists performing scans.
  • All policies to ensure each facility are following best practices. 

CT dose guidelines were standardized to outline what is appropriate and what is not appropriate.  In addition, policies on how shielding is provided, who is shielded, examinations requiring shielding, and how various age groups are managed have been standardized, Maher said.

The main goal of the initiative is to practice within the parameters of a safe radiation program and give the lowest actual dose possible to achieve a diagnostic examination, said Heins.  Initially the group has focused on CT or CAT scans because they are being used more and more.  Once review of that area is complete, the focus will turn to other areas of imaging, she noted.

The review is in its early stages, but the women said they are pleased with what they have seen.

“It has corroborated our belief that we were already practicing very safe processes. We felt validated number one, but we also were able to update some of our policies to guarantee best practice,” Heins said. “We’ve met and interacted with our peers and co-workers at the other PHP facilities and formed bonds and cooperative working relationships.  I would feel a little more comfortable to call others, and ask how they do certain procedures.”

A benefit of being part of PHP for UVMC is the electronic medical record which is being implemented this year at UVMC, Maher said.

“With the electronic medical record we will be able to view information from the other PHP facilities, and they will be able to view UVMC records.  For instance, currently if a patient had a CT procedure a week ago at Miami Valley Hospital we would not have direct access to this information.  It is possible the test may be repeated.  In the near future we will be able to view those records, and repeat procedures may be eliminated.  That could be another avenue for dose reduction,” she said. 

In consultation, the ordering physician and radiologist could determine if another procedure may be of more benefit.  “This would be a huge advantage for us and for our customers,” Maher said.

To learn more about UVMC Imaging Services, call 440-4803 or visit us online.