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ECRI Issues Recommendations For Controlling CT Radiation Dose

ECRI Institute has reported that keeping CT radiation dose in check is a safety concern for hospitals, and one of the complex problems to solve. While high levels of radiation may put patients at risk, too little will diminish image quality possibly resulting in misdiagnosis or the need for patients to be rescanned and exposed to even more radiation.

Practical recommendations for striking the delicate balance between too much and not enough radiation are presented in a new guidance article, ‘CT Radiation Dose: Understanding and Controlling the Risks,’ released by ECRI Institute, an independent, nonprofit organization that researches the best approaches to patient care.

ECRI claimed that the comprehensive Health Devices article expands on the recommendations about controlling CT radiation dose published in ECRI Institute’s 2010 Top 10 Technology Hazards list.

According to ECRI, while the radiologist is responsible for radiation dose control, ECRI Institute emphasizes that the responsibility also lies with the facility itself, referring physicians, medical physicists, radiation technologists, and CT device manufacturers.

The article identifies 16 practical recommendations that every facility should consider to help control radiation dose in CT. The recommendations are organized into 5 main categories: prioritizing dose reduction, protocol optimization, patient selection, the technician’s responsibilities, and quality assurance.

James Keller, vice president of health technology evaluation and safety at ECRI Institute, said: “Healthcare facilities are obviously interested and in principle committed to managing dose during CT. But a recent ECRI Institute survey suggests that most hospitals don’t actively track and audit radiation doses in CT. In time, these technologies will become more widely installed. Until then, there are a number of effective strategies every facility can implement to reduce dosage.”

According to Mr Keller, the new CT models are being built with dose-saving technologies, but they can be cost-prohibitive for many organizations. ECRI Institute’s aim is to provide unbiased, objective guidance to help facilities ensure that even older models are delivering the lowest reasonable radiation exposure to patients.

Jason Launders, lead author of the article and senior medical physicist at ECRI Institute, said: “While most CT users are aware of dose-saving adjustments that can be made on the scanner, we are presenting details on aspects that may not be universally understood and that may actually be counterintuitive.”