Through the combined efforts of the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), the Joint Task Force on Adult Radiation Protection recently launched Image Wisely. Image Wisely is a campaign designed to proliferate a better understanding of the importance of adult radiation protection. Although this campaign will benefit patients on a long-term basis, its immediate intent is to educate and protect the well being of medical physicists, radiologic technologists, referring practitioners and radiologists.
Image Wisely has a new website that contains educational materials designed to generate awareness regarding the dangers of radiation. It also includes methods that can be used to eliminate excessive exposure to radiation for radiologists as well as other medical workers and patients who are exposed to it on a daily basis. James A. Brink, who serves as the chair of diagnostic radiology at the Yale School of Medicine, said that radiation awareness has been increasing in recent years, but that many individuals are still unaware of just how dangerous it can be and how to properly avoid it. Image Wisely aims to change that.
Image Wisely follows the success of a previous program entitled Image Gently. Image Gently, which was conceived at the beginning of 2007, focuses on safe imaging practices for pediatric patients, while Image Wisely is primarily designed to ensure the safety of adult patients, radiologists and related medical practitioners.
Specifically, Image Wisely is seeking to reduce and eventually eliminate unneeded imaging exams and reduce the amount of radiation used in necessary exams to the minimum required for basic medical imaging. As the program begins, CT (computed tomography) will be the primary focus. Program organizers plan to broaden the scope of the program in the future by including radiography, fluoroscopy and nuclear medical procedures.
The Joint Task Force on Adult Radiation Protection has decided to use an image of a wise owl as the Image Wisely logo. The logo is designed to provide easy brand recognition for the program, which will be shared with medical vendors, government agencies, educational institutions and healthcare organizations, as well as the general public.
One of the most useful resources that is planned to be on the Image Wisely website is a series of links to medical vendor websites, which will thoroughly describe various radiation reduction techniques as they pertain to specific pieces of medical equipment.
In addition to informational materials, the Image Wisely program will contain multiple calls to action. Medical practitioners who view the site are asked to digitally sign a pledge to commit to the program’s principles, and individuals are encouraged to seek accreditation programs from the ACR. Part of the ACR’s CT accreditation program heavily emphasizes the necessity for, and the techniques of, radiation protection.
Some have feared that the program could unnecessarily scare the public about the potential dangers of radiological techniques. Program officials have largely quelled these fears, explaining that the program emphasizes the benefits of medical imaging scans (including faster recovery from injury, a reduced need for surgery, and ultimately saved lives) in addition to the dangers of radiation over time.
Currently, there are over 300,000 registered medical radiation technologists working in the United States. Image Wisely understands that the choice to pursue radiation dose reduction ultimately lies in the hands of these individuals, and they hope that the program will provide the educational tools necessary to ensure that these workers are equipped with the proper knowledge.
The announcement of Image Wisely is great news for citizens who regularly require medical imaging procedures, as well as for the practitioners who administer them.