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Albany Med Today

Department of Radiology Takes Pride in Steps to Reduce Radiation Exposure

Once a year, hospitals nationwide mark Patient Safety Awareness Week. This year’s theme, Patient Safety: 7 Days of Recognition, 365 Days of Commitment to Safe Care,
emphasizes the day-to-day efforts made to ensure patient safety.

“The reality is that, throughout Albany Med every day is patient safety awareness day. Each department is accountable for patient safety in one way or another,” said Steven Frisch, MD, executive vice president and hospital systems general director.

The Department of Radiology is a leading radiology exams per year, and nowhere is the concept of patient safety more deeply embedded than in our radiology department,” said Peter Karis, director of imaging and related services.

Albany Med is fully accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR). The entire team is dedicated to supporting a culture of safety in the radiology department based on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s guidelines known as ALARA, which stands for “as low as reasonably achievable.” These guidelines help ensure that radiation doses are as low as possible to achieve the purposes of the scan.

In addition, Albany Med participates in two initiatives to minimize radiation exposure and maximize patient safety: The Image Wisely campaign, sponsored by the ACR and Radiological Society of America, which provides safety guidelines for imaging adults, and the Image Gently campaign, sponsored by the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging, which promotes reduced radiation exposure when imaging children.

CT (computed tomography) necessarily uses higher levels of radiation than ordinary   x-rays do, which makes managing CT radiation particularly important, especially for children. “To cut down on radiation during CT scans, we use bismuth eye shields for eyes and breasts and special software that reduces radiation exposure by 30 percent for neurological CTs and by 40 percent for body CTs,” explained Patrick Butler, quality assurance coordinator.

“By monitoring the amount of radiation used for all adult and pediatric brain and abdomen scans, we keep exposure levels way below the ACR’s recommendations for these critical areas of the body,” he added. “And when it’s appropriate, our radiologists collaborate with referring physicians and recommend non-radiation imaging technology such as MRI or ultrasound studies,” said Karis.