Manage radiation as you would medication

Manage radiation as you would medication

By Dominic Siewko, Clinical Marketing Manager, Philips Healthcare

The Joint Commission has released Revised Requirements for Diagnostic Imaging Services and in it, outlined standards for managing radiation dose. Are you taking the necessary steps to comply?


The right solution is not only vendor agnostic, it encourages compliance.



Are you taking the necessary steps to comply?


Effective July 1st, 2015, the new Joint Commission ‘Revised Requirements for Diagnostic imaging Services’ states that hospitals must track, record, and improve X-ray dose performance against external benchmarks to maintain accreditation. The Joint Commission is not asking hospitals to buy high-end equipment, they’re asking them to look into the value of establishing a patient dose exam history so that physicians can make better, more informed decisions.


Military and VA institutions, at the forefront of state-of-the-art healthcare, are leading the adoption of these standards.


How did we get here?

In 2009, in an incident at a US hospital, it was discovered that 200 patients who had undergone a CT brain perfusion scan had been exposed to significantly larger amount of radiation than necessary. Unfortunately the situation had gone undetected for a period of time.


Following this incident, media reports quickly raised the alarm and forced the industry to take a closer look at the application of radiation dose. How could this accident have happened? Upon investigation, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined the imaging equipment had not malfunctioned – human error was to blame.

Patient radiation dose should be managed as closely as doses of medication are managed.

New requirements

At the FDA’s insistence (via CT XR-29 standard), imaging equipment manufacturers are now required to build four dose optimization features into every CT imaging system. But these hardware enhancements do not address the obvious issue – a hospital’s ability/inability to manage dose protocols across their department or enterprise.


Enter the Joint Commission. As part of a series of broad new standards, hospitals must now collect dose data as part of a more stringent dose management program.


Make dose part of a patient’s history

While experts may have differing opinions on what the ‘right’ level of radiation is, the realization is that any application of dose must be properly tracked and managed as part of a patient’s continuum of care. This is particularly true for those who return for ongoing treatment, where radiation is part of the established therapy.


The challenge for many institutions is that collecting, and managing data from a large number of imaging systems, requires a significant commitment of valuable resources. Often, this is simply not feasible.


There is, however, a solution.

Take control of dose management with DoseWise portal*


DoseWise Portal is a vendor-agnostic, web-based tool that collects, measures, analyzes, and reports patient and staff radiation exposure. It assists in the control of patient dose, facilitates protocol management, and helps address patient and staff care through enhanced transparency of historical radiation exposure.


View product detail


How does a dose tracking system work?

DoseWise Portal is essentially a listening device. If the imaging system is modern enough to send out dose metrics, DoseWise Portal can capture it. Once collected, the data can be displayed in a variety of customized graphic formats for analysis, based on individual preferences. Comparison of dose metrics for various modalities assists in the configuration of custom dose alert levels and thresholds, set by exam, by scanner, and by site. Reviewing and refining best practices, helps identify areas for improvement.


What can you do to move forward?

If you need to comply with the Joint Commission requirements, but are unsure of how to begin, download our complimentary Gap Analysis Tool.

A thorough analysis of your current state will give you insight into your institution’s shortcomings. Integration of the DoseWise Portal tool will then give you control over patient dose, staff occupational dose, and will aid in your regulatory compliance efforts.


Remember though, just because the tool collects the data and creates a database, it doesn’t mean that somebody on the other end is looking at that data to take action. You must assign a champion – perhaps your radiation safety officer or medical physicist.


Be a leader in dose management

The end goal of these requirements is to drive toward a more individualized treatment plan for patients, review and analyze dose data, and benchmark your facility against peers.


Adhering to these requirements in clinical practice will help establish a cornerstone for an effective radiation management program at your institution.

Joint Commission Standards Gap Analysis Tool


Conducting a gap analysis is a key step in developing and improving your dose management program to assist your organization in complying with Joint Commission requirements. We’ve developed a useful tool to help you compare your current practices against these new requirements and define corrective action.

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