Radiology and Imaging Sciences at NIH’s Clinical Center are taking steps to safeguard clinical research patients who are exposed to radiation during certain imaging tests. Computed tomography and positron emission tomography equipment at NIH is now required to routinely record radiation dose exposure to be included in a patient’s hospital-based electronic medical record.
“When a hospital or clinic patient receives a medication or treatment, it is routinely recorded in the patient’s medical record,” said John I. Gallin, M.D., Director of the NIH Clinical Center. According to David a. Bluemke, M.D., Ph.D, Director of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at the Clinical Center, electronic radiology information systems in hospitals today generally do not collect or report radiation exposures since CT and PET/CT scanners do not currently forward data on the radiation dose to our radiology information systems.
“The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements reports that Americans received seven times more radiation exposure from medical tests in 2006 then was the case in the 1980s,” said Ronald Neumann, M.D., Chief of Nuclear Medicine and Deputy Associate Director for Imaging Sciences at the Clinical Center. He reports that ultimately, the radiation dosage will become a standard element of a universal electronic medical record and this information could be used to assess radiation risk from life-long medical testing.
Currently, patients can receive their diagnostic imaging studies records on CD-ROM. The NIH Clinical Center’s program is going to work with the vendors who supply the Clinical Center’s imaging equipment to develop software tools to extract the examination type, date, and radiation dose exposure and include this information in the CD-ROM given to the patients. At that point, it will be possible to upload the information to a personal health record.