Nation’s CT Manufacturers Unveil New Industry-Wide Medical Radiation Patient Safety Features

02.25.10

Rosslyn, Va. – As part of its ongoing commitment to ensuring safe, appropriate and effective medical imaging and radiation therapy, the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) announced today a new industry-wide commitment to more expansively address patient safety in medical imaging by including new radiation dose safeguards.

A new radiation dose check feature will provide an alert to CT machine operators when recommended radiation dose levels – as determined by hospitals and imaging centers – will be exceeded.  The alert is designed to provide a clear indication to health care providers when radiation dose adjustments made for a patient’s exam would result in delivering a dose higher than the facility’s pre-determined dose threshold for routine use.  Known as a “reference dose,” this dose threshold level at which the new alert will appear will be set by clinicians. MITA and its member companies stand ready to work with professional organizations, regulatory bodies, and individual clinicians on implementing this feature and to assist in establishing these diagnostic reference dose values.

Moreover, manufacturers said today they are also committed to including an additional safeguard that will allow hospitals and imaging facilities to set maximum radiation dose limits that would prevent CT scanning at higher, potentially dangerous radiation levels. This feature is designed to prevent the use of hazardous levels of radiation that could lead to burns, hair loss or other injuries.

“Manufactures have revolutionized CT scanning by developing technology that delivers quality images at a radiation dose far below what it was just twenty years ago,” said Dave Fisher, Executive Director of MITA. “Today’s commitment builds on that history of innovation and our long-standing dedication to ensuring the safe, appropriate and effective use of our industry’s cutting-edge medical technologies. Manufactures are already working on – or in some cases have already implemented – a version of these new patient safeguards and will be able to include them on new releases of CT products and to begin deploying them to currently  installed CT systems before the end of this year.”

“The American Society of Radiologic Technologists supports MITA’s efforts to incorporate a radiation dose check feature on all new CT products. Radiologic technologists are equal partners on the medical imaging team, so the ASRT will work with MITA and imaging equipment manufacturers to make sure medical imaging exams remain safe and adhere to as low as reasonably achievable radiation dose guidelines,” said ASRT President Diane Mayo, R.T.(R)(CT).

MITA’s announcement was also applauded by the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging, which leads the Image Gently campaign to reduce radiation dose to children who undergo medical imaging exams. “We need to ensure that all imaging exams that use medical radiation are performed in the safest way possible,” said Marilyn Goske, MD, Chair of the Alliance and Professor of Radiology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. “The safeguards proposed by MITA represent a major step forward in managing radiation dose during CT scans performed on children, who are much more sensitive to radiation than adults.”

The MITA plan builds upon existing manufacturer safety measures – including equipment safety standards, protocol development, quality and safety checks, provider education programs and physician-developed medical guidelines – to minimize radiation dose as much as possible and to provide even greater degrees of coordination, transparency and reporting in the delivery of medical radiation.

Today’s initiative follows MITA’s recent announcement of its eight key principles to reduce unnecessary radiation exposure and medical errors:

•    Expanding and integrating appropriateness criteria into physician decision-making.

•    Creating a national dose registry to ensure longitudinal tracking of dose levels for patients across America.

•    Adopting a standardized storage of diagnostic imaging information within electronic health records.

•    Exploring the expansion of mandatory accreditation for advanced imaging facilities.

•    Establishing minimum standards for hospital and imaging facility personnel who perform medical imaging exams and deliver radiation therapy treatments.

•    Developing minimum standards for training and education for hospital and imaging facility personnel and checklists to reduce medical errors.

•    Expanding and standardizing the reporting of medical errors associated with medical radiation across stakeholders in a manner that is transparent for patients, families and physicians.

•    Working with stakeholders to develop radiation dose reference values to provide a data point to compare the dose level of a specific procedure. MITA commits to working with other stakeholders to develop the most appropriate way to incorporate this information into manufacturers’ technology.

“It is critical that patients continue to have access to  innovative medical imaging and radiation therapy solutions that save lives, help people avoid unnecessary surgery and reduce overall health care costs,” said David Fisher, Executive Director of MITA. “To that end, the imaging community is pleased to take the lead on the dose check initiative to provide new industry solutions while enhancing collaboration among all stakeholders to ensure appropriate use of life-saving medical radiation technologies proven to improve health outcomes and quality of life for millions of Americans.”