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Safer Scans: Four Steps to Reduce Radiation

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, February 13, 2011
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Fourth defense: Capturing exposure data

Looking to further reduce CT-scan radiation exposure, Brigham and Women’s is beginning to track the amount of radiation patients actually absorb so they can use that data to make well-informed care decisions down the line.

“We’re working to harvest that information after the test is done and enter it into the EMR,” Seltzer says. “That way we can have as part of the EMR a field that shows the cumulative exposure to the radiation a patient has had over their entire lifetime.”

All in all, experts believe the key to reducing radiation exposure during CT scans is to constantly analyze the risk ratio of radiation dose and image quality. Any extreme measures brought on by the recent negative media attention could set back diagnostic imaging, Weaver says.

“Part of me welcomes the extra attention which has been shown toward dose in general, and there’s part that says it’s inappropriate because almost all the exams are well-justified,” he says. “You wind up with people being too afraid or too cavalier.”

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