Radiology quality assurance is a hot topic in Canada. Numerous scandals have hit Canada that involve mammograms, CT scans and other medical imaging being misinterpreted by radiologists. Prompted by the crisis, two provinces are developing quality assurance systems that automatically send out test results to be reviewed for errors.
With an eye towards combating errors, radiology quality assurance programs are being initiated by British Columbia and Alberta. Quality assurance systems of this type would be a first in Canada, representing an extraordinary attempt to have the work of a doctor evaluated in a systematic manner.
New Quality Assurance System
“It does seem sometimes like we’re being unfairly singled out,” said Dr. Rob Sevick, a Calgary radiologist who is contributing to the development of the quality assurance system for Alberta. However, he says, “It’s meant primarily as an educational exercise, not as a punitive exercise.… The object is to learn from the mistakes of others.” Other provinces are probably not far behind, adds Dr. Sevick, making radiologists’ work subject to the sort of scrutiny no other medical specialty is faced with.
According to Mauro Chies, the Alberta Health Services (AHS) official who leads the project, while mistakes are made in many areas of medicine, errors can be relatively easily identified in the reading of diagnostic images.
Quality Assurance Issues Throughout Canada
Mistakes in reading X-rays, CT scans and ultrasounds at one Alberta hospital led to a review of radiology throughout the providence. While in Mississauga, Ontario, health officials concerned about quality assurance are reviewing the results of 3,500 CT scans and mammograms at two hospitals due to the potential errors caused by a radiologist’s “performance issue.”
Growing Complexity of Radiology
Radiology quality assurance has come to the forefront due to the growing complexity of the field, notes Dr. Cochrane, a pediatric neurosurgeon. Where a radiologist would have looked at a dozen or so X-rays of a patient in the past, he or she now analyzes as many as 300 images taken by an MRI or CT scan, said Dr. Cochrane.
“It has changed dramatically,” explains Dr. Sevick. “The amount of information coming at a radiologist has increased exponentially.”
Need for Quality Assurance Software
Capturing radiologist feedback manually, as most radiology departments do, won’t translate effectively in such a complex environment. Feedback to radiographer performance—negative or positive—is seldom appropriately measured, tracked and / or documented. This may give radiographers false confidence in their performance.
The right quality assurance software solution allows medical imaging departments to identify patterns in radiographer performance and plan training to address performance issues.
The peerVue Radiographer QA (Quality Assurance) solution space provides an objective—and extremely easy and automated—way of capturing radiology feedback. For the first time ever, managers can view all feedback for a particular radiographer and display the exams involved with a few clicks. Tracking and reporting are automated to identify and resolve potential performance issues with proper education, mentoring, or suspension for continuous quality improvements.