I stumbled across a paper abstract from the International Journal of Medical Physics Research and Practice. The abstract described a meeting on radiation oncology safety which, “attracted 400 attendees, including medical physicists, radiation oncologists, medical dosimetrists, radiation therapists, hospital administrators, regulators, and representatives of equipment manufacturers. The meeting was cohosted by 14 organizations in the United States and Canada.”
Damn! I’m impressed, particularly since the abstract also states that this meeting was hastily called in response to articles appearing, starting in January of this year, in the New York Times on radiology and radiation therapy accidents. Such a coordinated response by the professional societies. Such representation from the professional community at a time when conference and professional development budgets are being slashed. How does this compare with MRI?
I hope my 2011 nPSG on MRI safety doesn’t cause any confusion with the Joint Commission’s new NPSG (National Patient Safety Goals). The fact is that this is distinct… it only uses the Joint Commission’s own wording to craft a patient safety goal specific to MRI in an effort to break through the paper-thin fallacy of ‘supporting MRI safety’ without providing (a) specific standards, (b) comparable scrutiny based on TJC published best-practices, (c) enforcement of requisite risk-management standards as they would apply to MRI, or (d) specific expert training on MRI safety issues for their on-site surveyor corps.
Make no mistake, I believe that healthcare has a special obligation to protect the well being of our patients, our beneficiaries, our charges. When it comes to radiology, nuclear medicine and radiation therapy (where treating the patient involves sticking them in an astoundingly complex machine and exercising advanced concepts in physics to have a computer reconstruct fragments of data into an intelligible picture)… well its just so damned complicated that we have to assume the full responsibility for patient safety because, under those circumstances, it is wholly unreasonable to expect the patient to be active participants in their own safety.