Radiology-Led Initiatives Help Produce Large Decline in Medical Radiation Dose that Americans Receive
NCRP findings provide basis for future medical imaging policy and debunk myths
The Image Gently® and Image Wisely® awareness campaigns, radiology and industry collaboration to advance low-dose technologies, growing use of the ACR Dose Index Registry, and mandatory accreditation of imaging facilities under Medicare are among the primary factors that produced a 15-20 percent reduction in medical radiation dose that Americans receive. This significant decrease is documented in the new National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) Report 184 released today.
“We are pleased, but not surprised, that despite a steadily increasing and aging population, the medical radiation dose Americans receive is going down. The radiology community continues to evaluate additional opportunities to further reduce both collective and individual doses while advancing the contribution of imaging to high-quality care. We expect this trend to continue as technology advances and imaging optimization matures,” said American College of Radiology Chief Executive Officer William T. Thorwarth Jr., MD, FACR.
The Next Step
The pending federal mandate that providers consult appropriate use criteria (AUC) prior to ordering advanced diagnostic imaging for Medicare patients can only extend this trend. Studies at the University of Virginia, the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement, Partners Healthcare and elsewhere prove that AUC-based clinical decision support use improves imaging appropriateness — which can prevent unnecessary radiation exposure and lower cost.
“This NCRP report provides factual information to enable lawmakers, patients and the radiology community to make informed health care decisions. We need to continue to build on this success by moving forward with the Medicare AUC mandate. It is the logical next step,” said Thorwarth.
Medical Imaging Saves Lives, Resources and Time
Studies show that medical imaging exams are directly linked to greater life expectancy and declines in mortality rates. These scans reduce invasive surgeries, unnecessary hospital admissions and length of hospital stays. A National Bureau of Economic Research study showed that Americans with greater access to imaging live longer than those with lesser access to this lifesaving care.
“Imaging is vital to modern health care. We will continue to work to optimize medical radiation dose and ensure that patients have access to the right care, at the right time, for the right reason,” said Thorwarth.
Find more information on medical imaging safety at ImageWisely.org, ImageGently.org (for pediatric imaging) and RadiologyInfo.org.