Last year, The Joint Commission issued a sentinel alert about the radiation risks of diagnostic imaging. In 2010, a year before The Joint Commission’s warning, North Shore-LIJ Imaging Services initiated a review of all imaging equipment across the health system, looking at such factors as age and the clinical conditions for which the scanners are being used. In the interest of advancing patient safety and improving care, we developed a three-year plan to upgrade or replace $50 million in diagnostic imaging equipment, based upon a strategic, clinical approach. Today, the health system announced it is investing $12 million to purchase 15 GE Low-Dose CT Scanners that will be installed at 10 of our hospitals on Long Island and in New York City over the next year. By doing so, North Shore-LIJ becomes one of the first health systems in the country to replace all of its conventional CT systems with low-dose scanners.
The new CTs produce lower levels of radiation while also improving image clarity. In addition to the hardware, we’re installing software that tracks radiation exposure by CT, creating a database that will monitor levels of emission and enable us to adjust our practices based on the latest clinical evidence.
With the help of radiology leaders from across the health system, all of North Shore-LIJ imaging facilities are completing their American College of Radiology (ACR) accreditation. They also achieved 100 percent compliance with the ACR’s “Image Wisely” and “Image Gently” pledges, whereby all staff promised to reduce radiation doses to the lowest effective level for all patients and to only utilize radiation when no clinically appropriate alternative exists.
CTs have proven to be an important diagnostic tool. The comprehensive patient safety program we’ve developed to upgrade our imaging equipment and educate staff and patients about the potential dangers of radiation from CTs is part of our ongoing journey to provide the highest and safest quality of care.