By Barbara Dumery
Over the past year, there has been increased awareness of the potentially harmful side effects
of radiation exposure from computed tomography (CT) scans. In fact, just this
past June, the Lancet published the results of a comprehensive study showing the increased risk of leukemia
and brain tumors due to radiation exposure from CT in childhood.
Regulators have taken notice. As of July 1, 2012, the state of
California requires facilities performing CT scans to record radiation dose as
part of patients’ radiology reports or as an attached protocol page. While
California is the first state to take official action to manage and control
this issue, numerous groups including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA), the Joint Commission, Image Wisely, Image Gently, and others are working
to address patient radiation overexposure across the United States.
Per the regulations, facilities need to ensure that the patient’s
radiation dose exposure is included in their report. This can be accomplished
with an integration of speech-enabled documentation and automated
radiation dose reporting technologies. Through this integration, the patient’s radiation dose exposure
information can be automatically included in the report, reducing the potential
for error and facilitating a more complete and comprehensive view of the
patient’s exposure. At a time when radiologists and imaging services are under
increased pressure to read studies more efficiently while proving their value,
this type of technology can prove critical to their livelihood.
In addition to the dosage data, imaging services can choose to include
helpful information to educate the referring physician on the values. This can
help ensure that the referring physician selects the appropriate follow-up
treatments. Also, with more and more patients looking to review their own
radiology report, having information in the template of the report aimed at
educating patients on the values can further help alleviate concerns regarding
radiation dose exposure.
Radiation dose reporting is a solid first step toward building
physician and patient awareness surrounding the appropriate use and exposure
associated with CT scans. Over time, we’ll most likely see additional
innovative technologies that will help healthcare providers track and monitor
the cumulative exposure for a patient over longer periods of time.
Barbara Dumery is the Director of Diagnostics Solutions
Marketing at Nuance Communications. She joined Nuance in
2006 and has over 15 years of experience in healthcare IT. Nuance Healthcare is
the market leader in providing clinical understanding solutions that accurately
capture and transform the patient story into meaningful, actionable
information. Prior to joining Nuance, Barbara was the Senior Product Manager at
eMed Technologies. She graduated from Tufts University in ’95 with a BSEE in
Electrical Engineering and in ’97 with an MSEE in Electrical Engineering,