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Sat 12 Jul 2008 04:00 AM

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X-ray failings put regions patients at risk

Patients are being exposed to unnecessary radiation because hospitals are failing to capture accurate X-ray images on the first attempt.

Patients are being exposed to unnecessary radiation because hospitals are failing to capture accurate X-ray images on the first attempt.

A survey of hospitals in 12 developing countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Iran, found that in more than half of cases, X-ray quality was so poor it affected diagnostic information.

As a consequence, patients then receive repeat X-rays, exposing them to a second dose of radiation and increasing overall healthcare costs.

Dr Madan Rehani, of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who fronted the survey, said that vital information on X-ray quality and patient doses was “grossly lacking” among the hospitals.

“The use of X-rays in medical care is growing in developing countries [and] poor image quality constitutes a major source of unnecessary radiation to patients.”

The survey’s findings, published in the American Journal of Roentgenology, were used as part of a wider analysis rating the success of quality assurance programmes in boosting radiology efficiency.

Once QA schemes were in place, Dr Rehani and colleagues reported the quality of X-ray images improved up to 13% in Asia, 16% in Africa and 22% in Eastern Europe.

“Our work shows that focusing on the machine is not enough,” said Dr Rehani. “We’re documenting that the evaluation of image quality and patient dose goes hand in hand with safe and effective medical radiography.”

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