Patient Safety Considerations
What You Should Know About Quality and Safety in Medical Imaging
Radiological procedures such as CT, MRI, and PET are medically prescribed and should only be used by appropriately trained and certified physicians under medically necessary circumstances. Radiologists are medical doctors who have received at least 4 years of unique, specific, postmedical school training in radiation safety, the optimal performance of radiological procedures, and interpretation of medical images. Other medical specialties mandate far less imaging education, ranging from a few days to a maximum of 10 months. Use of medical imaging procedures by unqualified providers may needlessly expose you to radiation or radiation levels that could be unduly hazardous. It may also result in misdiagnosis or problems that are not diagnosed at all.
Insist that any facility providing your medical imaging care be accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR). ACR accreditation ensures that the physicians supervising and interpreting your medical imaging meet stringent education and training standards. ACR accreditation also signifies that the imaging equipment is surveyed regularly by qualified medical physicists to ensure that it is functioning properly, and that the technologists administering the tests are certified.
Quality Standards for Medicare
The ACR recommends measures to ensure the highest quality diagnostic imaging services, while saving taxpayers urgently needed Medicare dollars. These measures are similar to those that have been used with great success by private payers.
Quality standards work. Federal standards already protect women undergoing mammography, and private payers are effectively using quality standards to control costs and prevent risks from poor quality and inappropriate MRI, CT, and PET scans. Medicare patients deserve the same protection and assurances as people who are insured privately when undergoing advanced medical imaging procedures. To find out how you can help establish quality standards to save taxpayers billions of dollars and improve Medicare patient care, please visit www.radisphereradiology.com.
Radiation Exposure in X-ray Examinations
Radiation exposure from the use of medical “X-ray” studies represent the single largest source of “non-natural” radiation to the US population. Thus, the judicious use of studies that require radiation exposure is of paramount importance to the radiologists of RMR. In general we ascribe to the general radiation guideline of ALARA: As Low As Reasonably Achievable, when performing and recommending radiological tests that require the use of X-rays. This is especially true when dealing with children and pregnant women. Below are links to various topics that discuss the topic of radiation.
- What are x-rays and what do they do?
- Measuring radiation dosage
- Naturally-occurring “background” radiation exposure
- X-ray safety
- X-rays over your lifetime
- Pregnancy and x-rays
- Radiation exposure from interventional radiology procedures
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI is a relatively new and revolutionary technique that allows unparalleled delineation of anatomy and pathology in many clinical situations. MRI does not require the use of X-rays. However it does use a strong magnetic field which requires that special safety considerations be followed.
- What is MRI and how does it work?
- How safe is MRI?
- How should I prepare for my MRI exam?
- The question of claustrophobia
- Pregnancy and MRI
The use of medical “dyes” or contrast agents
When performing CT, MRI, X-rays or fluoroscopy, the use of a medical contrast agent can often be the crucial enhancement that allows timely diagnosis of a significant medical problem. In some cases, contrast is absolutely required to make a diagnosis. In other situations, contrast may be unnecessary or even problematic. The radiologists at RMR will help guide your doctor in choosing the best situation when to, and when not to use contrast.
- What are contrast materials and how do they work?
- Which imaging exams use contrast materials?
- How safe are contrast materials?
- How should I prepare for my imaging procedure with contrast material?
- Side effects and adverse and allergic reactions
- What will I experience before and after receiving contrast material?
- Pregnancy and contrast materials