Providers pledge to use less radiation

Healthcare providers are aiming to stop the overuse of radiation on patients during medical exams through a nationwide campaign--Image Wisely--launched this week at the Radiological Society of North America's annual meeting. The RSNA said the campaign may lead to more review of protocols, more accreditation of imaging facilities and more widely shared standards on proper radiation doses, according to the Associated Press.

The first step in Image Wisely is a pledge to use the least radiation necessary for a procedure. So far, roughly 700 healthcare providers have signed, notes the AP.

Studies have shown that too much radiation can cause cancer. The average American's total radiation exposure has risen significantly in recent decades due to the growth in medical imaging, according to the RSNA. And the use of new imaging tests such as CT scans--which increased six-fold in ERs--has raised concerns about overexposure to high-dose radiation.

"With digital imaging it's easy to use increased dose per procedure to yield prettier images," Dr. William Hendee of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee told the AP. "But you don't need pretty images to provide information necessary to yield a diagnosis."

According to the RSNA, overutilization of medical imaging tests adds unnecessary costs to providers and unnecessary radiation exposure to patients. Through the campaign, radiologists and medical physicists will work together to lower radiation doses while maintaining diagnostic quality.

"You don't know that you need to improve unless you have that information from everybody else," said Priscilla Butler of the American College of Radiology, a professional society that is developing a registry that will keep track of CT scan doses. Image Wisely will encourage healthcare institutions to join the registry, notes the AP.

For more:
- read the RSNA press release
- read the Associated Press article