Despite the high frequency of computed tomography (CT) usage—75 million CT examinations are performed nationally each year—and despite the high doses of radiation that CT delivers in comparison to most imaging studies, there are few standards for the conduct of CT. This has resulted in excessive variation in the doses patients receive when they undergo CT, the use of doses higher than needed for medical diagnoses, and doses associated with increased cancer risk.
The broad goal of the research is to develop benchmarks for CT to enable institutions to standardize and optimize the doses they use for CT. The specific goals are to collect detailed data to assess current practice, to use these data to develop meaningful metrics to summarize dose at the facility level (akin to HEDIS quality measures), to create benchmarks for doses, and to assess the impact of providing feedback on their doses (audit).
Our project will be conducted in partnership with a large number of diverse healthcare delivery organizations and in collaboration with Radimetrics, a medical imaging radiation-dose-monitoring software company purchased by each of our partners. By organizing our project around these existing relationships, we can focus on the proposed aims without having to dwell on the complexities of data collection.
We aim to learn what patients want to know about radiation dose and medical imaging. We will survey patients to try to understand their questions and needs. We will develop patient focused materials to help them understand the imaging report and specifically the issue of medical radiation doses, and we will create a patient-targeted website that will help patients better understand radiation doses in medical imaging and their imaging report.