Report Summary

Title: Evaluation of Computed Tomography Radiation Monitoring in Veterans Health Administration Facilities
Report Number: 16-03920-197 Download
Issue Date: 4/11/2017
VA Office: Veterans Health Administration (VHA)
Report Author: Office of Healthcare Inspections
Report Type: Healthcare Inspections
Healthcare Inspection Report
Release Type: Unrestricted

The VA Office of Inspector General Office completed a healthcare evaluation of computed tomography (CT) radiation monitoring in Veterans Health Administration facilities. The purpose of the evaluation was to determine whether facilities complied with selected Veterans Health Administration radiation safety requirements. CT combines a series of x-ray images to create cross-sectional images of the body. Sophisticated computers process the data to generate three-dimensional CT images of the inside of the body that can reveal the presence of disease or injury. CT scans are extremely helpful in diagnosing serious injuries to the head, chest, abdomen, spine, and pelvis. CT scans can also pinpoint the size and location of tumors. However, CT scans also contribute significantly to the amount of total patient radiation exposure and could result in the development of future cancers. For this reason, clinicians should eliminate avoidable exposure.

We conducted this review at 56 Veterans Health Administration medical facilities during Combined Assessment Program reviews performed across the country from April 1, 2015, through March 31, 2016. We noted high compliance in multiple areas, for example: facilities had designated Radiation Safety Officers; clinicians documented radiation doses as required by facility policy; and CT technologists were certified, received selected training, and had dosimetry monitoring. However, we identified a system weakness in which medical physicists did not consistently inspect CT scanners after repairs or modifications that affected the dose or image quality prior to returning the scanners to clinical service. We made one recommendation.