Is your office making every effort to ensure the radiation dose emitted during computed tomography (CT) scans is As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA)? How does it compare to other hospitals and clinics? In 2011, the American College of Radiology (ACR) created a Dose Index Registry (DIR) that allows facilities to compare their dose indices to those of other organizations. Information for all CT exams at participating facilities is collected, anonymized, transmitted to the ACR and stored in a database, which is located at nrdr.acr.org.
While the DIR does not release information on specific facilities, it does use all the indices to create national benchmarks. Health care organizations can compare their performance to these benchmarks to fulfill requirements in the American Board of Radiology’s Maintenance of Certification Program. The DIR provides information aggregated by both anatomy and examination type, which means that facilities can get a true and accurate comparison.
This information gives an unbiased quantifiable way to compare one facility to another as it pertains to ionizing radiation dosing. Over the years, both health care facilities and developers of imaging equipment have strived to keep radiation doses low according to the ALARA principle. The DIR shows the average dose for a specific exam — both nationally and among facilities of similar sizes. This information can help enable change or reinforce and applaud proper protocols.
Radiology has come a long way since the days of Marie Curie, a pioneering researcher who unknowingly exposed her body to dangerous levels of radiation in the pursuit of scientific discovery. The DIR offers an opportunity to evaluate and confirm that both patients and employees are safe.