Connecticut to open first statewide radiation dose repository in U.S.

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 - m-cooper
Mary Cooper, MD, JD

The Connecticut Hospital Association (CHA) announced in March 2017 it was helping manage the development of a statewide radiation dose management repository, which will maintain dose data for patients receiving care from any participating hospitals.

“We know that for any activities we do in healthcare and in patient safety, there are variations among people, among institutions, among areas in the country,” says Mary Cooper, MD, JD, CHA's senior vice president of clinical services. “What we are trying to do with the radiation dose repository is start to use aggregated data from around the state of Connecticut to look at practice patterns and see if there are outliers. Those outliers could be individual radiologists who ask for more images to interpret an exam than someone else does, technologists who position patients differently than their colleagues do across the state or protocols entered into a machine at a certain institution.”

This would be the first statewide repository of its kind, with 27 different hospitals working together, analyzing their own data and then working to craft radiation dose standards for the entire state. Cooper proudly points to the fact that these hospitals will be working together to improve patient care instead of competing against one another, sending a positive message throughout the Constitution State.

“Because all the hospitals are in close proximity to one another, the notion that they’re all out there helping each other is a big motivator for patients and practitioners who will feel that their patients are being taken care of,” she says. “Everyone’s in the same boat.”

One of Cooper’s favorite features of this repository is that the 27 participating hospitals have different ownership and belong to different systems, which shows that they aren’t just being forced into this; it’s something they legitimately want to do.

“None of these hospitals have to do what I say,” she says. “They don’t work for me. They’re doing this because they think it is the right thing to do.”

Cooper adds that the repository will help cut down on repeat imaging by improving communication between these different facilities. And looking ahead, she sees this as an important step toward every patient in the country knowing exactly how much radiation they have been exposed to due to imaging exams. When all patients have this information, she says, it should drive the industry to continue making improvements and lowering dose as much as possible.