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Oaklawn recognized as a leader in radiation dose management

A new GE Healthcare promotional campaign is highlighting the work of Oaklawn Hospital’s radiology department as an example of excellence.

The campaign singles out the department’s efforts in maintaining low radiation dosages during the use of computerized tomography – often called CT – scanners to produce cross-section images of patients’ internal organs and tissues to diagnose medical issues.

“At Oaklawn, one of our core values is to have state-of-the-art technology,” said Rick Johnson, the department’s director. “We strive to continuously improve our equipment and our patient care by keeping current with industry standards through careful analysis of new technology.”

“We had already started reducing doses with our old scanner, and when we purchased a new 64-slice CT scanner, it had lower-dose technology already in it,” Johnson said. “When we were approached by GE Healthcare, their software seemed like a logical fit and I made the decision to purchase it. As a result, we were able to reduce our radiation dose and improve our efforts even more.”

DoseWatch software allows hospital staff to track and analyze radiation data to maintain the lowest radiation dose possible, enabling the CT equipment to produce sharp diagnostic images with the lowest possible exposure factors, and detect the causes of excessive radiation.

In March 2012, Oaklawn became an early user of DoseWatch, whose distributor GE Healthcare is celebrating the fact that Bruges Hospital in Belgium recently became its 100th DoseWatch customer.

“One of the really neat things about this is how quickly we got on the bandwagon with DoseWatch,” said Oaklawn CT technologist and Radiology Quality Coordinator Amber Herman. “It was within four months of the software being available for purchase.

“At that time, we were second in the country and ninth in the world for having this system,” Herman added. “That shows we were aggressively pursuing the best patient care that we can for patients who are getting CT scans performed.”

By November 2012, the American College of Radiology released an annual National Radiology Data Registry, citing Oaklawn Hospital for scoring below the 25th percentile for radiation dosage in four national comparison categories.

“It’s great that we are the lowest in these categories across the nation, and not just in the state of Michigan or in our southwest Michigan region,” Herman said.

“We saw some very quick, very positive results,” Johnson agreed. DoseWatch is a registered trademark of General Electric Co., of which Waukesha, Wis.-based GE Healthcare is a division.

Using DoseWatch, Oaklawn’s staff was able to make revisions to its procedures that resulted in a reduction of dosage by an average of 63 percent, Herman said.

“DoseWatch provided confirmation that on a patient-by-patient basis we were delivering lower dose,” Herman said.

“Before, we knew we had consistent study descriptions and the proper protocols enabled, but didn’t have a way to confirm this or demonstrate this to quality stakeholders,” she said.

“The amount of radiation our patients are exposed to is an important part of our patient care philosophy, and when looking at equipment and tools to measure and monitor our dose, we want to set the standard,” said Oaklawn Chief Support and Ancillary Services Officer Sherry Boyd.

“Our dose reduction efforts are just another of the many ways in which Oaklawn sets the standard for imaging which is in our patients’ best interests,” Johnson said.

“Oaklawn has had many firsts in our radiology department, such as the first southwest Michigan hospital to have digital mammography, a direct capture radiology room, totally wireless direct capture portable x-ray unit, and the first to have spiral CT which has progressed into two consecutive multi-slice scanners,” Boyd said.

“This equipment was purchased because it was better for our patients, just like providing the best image with the lowest amount of radiation.”

For more information about DoseWatch, visit www.doseoptimization.gehealthcare.com.

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