Patient safety has been a top priority for Radiologic Associates of Fredericksburg (RAF) since its inception. With a focus on training, the use of alternative screening tools whenever appropriate, and the utilization of technologies and approaches that minimize radiation, RAF is continuously working to obtain the most useful medical information with the lowest dose of radiation.
RAF is committed to imaging gently and wisely.
Implementing national protocols for safety
As participants in the national Image Wisely® Initiative (and Image Gently® Campaign for children), RAF has adopted protocols for medical imaging that have been developed with the purpose of reducing radiation exposure. These protocols impact the choices that radiologists make in the selection and approach to various imaging studies, built upon a broader body of knowledge about techniques that enhance safety. Through this association relationship, RAF is able to evaluate equipment and protocols and maintain the highest level of training for imaging safety.
RAF has adopted these four key Image Wisely® approaches:
- To put our patients’ safety, health, and welfare first by optimizing imaging examinations to use only the radiation necessary to produce diagnostic-quality images;
- To convey the principles of the Image Wisely program to the imaging team in order to ensure that our facility optimizes its use of radiation when imaging patients;
- To communicate optimal patient imaging strategies to referring physicians, and to be available for consultation;
- To routinely review imaging protocols to ensure that the least radiation necessary to acquire a diagnostic-quality image is used for each examination
“We continually strive to use cutting-edge technology and improve our protocols to deliver more effective results.”
Dr. Meyer, Chief of Radiology Mary Washington Hospital
New scanners reduce radiation
The selection of equipment and technology planning is a critical activity for RAF doctors. Constantly under evaluation, the use of existing technology and the opportunities to upgrade imaging equipment requires careful observation and the review of sophisticated research.
Ongoing equipment upgrades include new scanning equipment, changing the way that images are processed. New scanners are already available at Mary Washington Hospital and are being installed at Medical Imaging at Lee’s Hill and Medical Imaging of Stafford in 2015. This equipment provides for advances in image post-processing software, so the initial image can be captured with less radiation. The software maximizes the value of the images that can be captured using a reduced radiation profile and provides amazing options for analysis and detail. Even with a lower initial use of radiation, it produces the same or better images. When you combine this with the training and experience of the RAF team, both physicians and technologists, the result is a dramatic improvement in the value and a reduction of risk for patients.
Dr. Meyer discusses the benefits of this technology: “The new CT scanners use post-processing software that can reduce the total exposure by 30 to 40%, which is a substantial achievement. RAF constantly monitors opportunities to improve equipment and implement best practices to make each imaging study more valuable for diagnosis and treatment, while continuing to reduce radiation for patients.”
Appropriateness Criteria is a key tool for referring physicians
The importance of selecting the right imaging study for the right patient’s needs cannot be overstated. This is a primary way to avoid unnecessary imaging. To assist referring physicians in selecting the study that will answer the diagnostic or screening questions their patients need, RAF provides an Appropriateness Guide that has been developed by the American College of Radiology. This guide is available both online and in hard copy from RAF.
Our practices are the focus of constant improvement
We approach the practice of radiology with a collaborative and proactive system. All the members of the RAF team, including imaging technologists, have their own areas of expertise, and contribute and share cutting-edge research and insights that allow us to make continuous improvements to the protocols that guide our work. We are proactive about the way that imaging is planned and implemented so that our patients get the latest and most effective approaches. These two factors make a big difference as we continually upgrade our methods to maximize safety for our patients.
When we identify a modified approach that has been tested with adequate research, we implement this within our protocols. Our entire team is trained on this approach to effectively implement a revised procedure. This is a continual process for RAF, and allows our facilities to stay at the top of the curve by providing the best care for our patients, and the best support for referring physicians.
A regional team of the highest caliber
RAF physicians provide medical support in all four regional Medical Imaging locations, as well as the Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, VIVA, and Stafford Hospital. This allows a diverse set of specialties to be available throughout our region. RAF doctors have been trained at many of the top residencies and fellowships in the country. This makes the RAF team an important reason that imaging studies provided locally offer greater convenience, while retaining the highest levels of technology and experience that patients want and need.