The needs of children always receive special attention from RAF doctors, as well as our entire service team. We’re committed in helping to address the anxious thoughts that parents often have, all while serving the unique needs of pediatric patients to ensure the safest medical and most comprehensive imaging available. We work as expert partners for referring physicians and families throughout the imaging process.
RAF is committed to meeting the special needs of children and offering the unique care that is required to keep children safe during the imaging process.
RAF participates in the Image Gently® Alliance
As a supporter of the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging (the Image Gently® Alliance), RAF continues to work to improve safe and effective imaging care for children. This alliance helps RAF to identify and provide internal training on best practices in pediatric imaging. Additionally, broadly accepted guidelines are updated and shared through the alliance.
The following approaches are key aspects of RAF in caring for children during imaging:
1. We work to increase awareness of the need to lower the radiation dose to children during CT scanning, and develop specialized protocols used by our team for this purpose.
2. We approach children’s imaging as a team that includes technologists, physicists, referring doctors, and parents to decrease the radiation dose!
3. We work with radiation experts to “down-size” the protocols for kids.
4. Whenever possible, we use single phase scans, as they are often adequate for the patient’s needs.
5. We scan only the indicated area.
You can learn more about the Alliance Image Gently® on their website.
Carefully planned imaging for children
Decreasing childhood radiation exposure is an important part of imaging planning. RAF physicians carefully use imaging to create the lowest possible radiation exposure, selecting alternative methods whenever they are available. With fully licensed professionals trained and experienced in the application of imaging techniques to younger bodies, we choose to work with referring physicians to achieve the images for diagnosis in the safest manner possible.
Our team also works to provide guidance about the use of alternative imaging approaches, such as ultrasound or occasionally magnetic resonance imaging, and when these methods can be used to provide similar information, without exposing a child to radiation.
Planning for the most effective and safest children’s imaging requires experience and training, along with a collaborative approach involving a radiologist and the referring physician.
Child friendly spaces
There is no mistaking our heart for children when you see the reading and play space in our Lee’s Hill lobby. That care extends into the warmth of staff greetings for both children and their parents. While all of our facilities use calming decorative colors and furnishings, our children’s x-ray room lets children and families know that they have a special place in our hearts and services.
We want every experience that a child has in our facilities to provide maximum support, all while working to reduce anxieties that may result from navigating the foreign world of medical equipment and facilities.
Parent education is vital
It’s natural for parents to have concerns anytime their child requires medical testing or imaging. Helping parents to understand the needs and benefits of imaging is a key role for all physicians who interact with parents during the process. We help them to understand that the amount of radiation from an x-ray is very small, and that the RAF team works to keep that radiation amount as low as possible. They need to understand that both referring physicians and the RAF team balance the benefit of the test and potential risks to select the right test for the appropriate level of diagnostic support.
Children’s imaging records
We suggest that parents be provided with a tool to keep track of their children’s imaging records. In addition to records kept by physicians, this approach helps parents to be aware of their children’s imaging as the child develops. This is useful for parents to take along to physician visits, and when completing recommended imaging. A useful template is provide by the Imaging Gently® Alliance
Local services create digital, sharable records
RAF retains digital records of children’s imaging, which are shared with referring physicians, and can be used anywhere that children are receiving treatment that requires reference to their imaging studies. Imaging provided in the Fredericksburg and Stafford region can be used anywhere that children receive treatment, without the need to have the imaging service provided in a less convenient location.
RAF and its facilities are accredited by the American College of Radiologists. This important certification is one way that parents can feel confident in the training and technology that is used to serve their children. This accreditation relationship also provides RAF with appropriateness criteria for pediatric conditions, offering guidance about the utility of various imaging approaches.
Children are a focus for our entire team
The entire team, including technologists, front office, and doctors, are focused on providing children with the kind of caring environment that they deserve. This requires that we develop and update the protocols we use as the technology changes.
Technologists and doctors participate in regular training for children’s imaging.
Imaging software advances children’s care options
RAF upgrades of CT scanning equipment are changing the way that images are captured. New CT scanners are already available at Mary Washington Hospital, and are being installed at Medical Imaging at Lee’s Hill and Medical Imaging of Stafford by the end of 2015. This improved equipment provides advanced image post-processing software, allowing the initial image to be captured with lower amounts of radiation.
Dr. Meyer is proud that RAF can offer the benefits of this technology: “The new scanners use advanced post-processing software to reduce the exposure by 30 percent or more.”
While using lower initial amounts of radiation, this improved software produces the same or better images. Each image uses a reduced radiation profile, and provides increased options for analyzing what has been captured. When you combine this with the focused training and experience of the RAF team for children, including both physicians and technologists, the new software offers a dramatic improvement in the value of images and lower risks for patients.