This blog is the second in a series about the significance of having a medical physicist in your diagnostic imaging department.
A medical physicist has many benefits, but their chief value is that they can ensure your diagnostic imaging department is fully compliant in regards to equipment, radiation safety and dosage levels and team members. In fact, medical centers that follow industry best practices have in-house medical physics programs; RadSite’s MIPPA Accreditation Program (MAP) also requires an annual medical physics report for each CT, MRI, PET or SPECT system undergoing accreditation. But simply having a full-time medical physicist on your team does not ensure that your program is running at the optimum level.
Relationships built on mutual respect and trust are key
The relationship between the imaging physician and the medical physicist, as well as the technologist and the medical physicist, will ultimately determine the quality of the end product, which is patient safety and outcomes. The physician is, of course, responsible for the diagnosis, while the technologist is responsible for the quality of the image. The nature of the relationship between the two individuals will determine the value of their consultations, which will directly impact the level of care to the patient.
One of the most important roles for a medical physicist is to keep the physician informed about dosage levels. This information is used in many areas of the department, including image formation, patient safety and ensuring the organization is in line with national averages. Other areas where consultations between the physician and physicist can help are advances in the field of medical imaging as well as technical aspects of imaging equipment. This includes limitations and other technical factors that could affect the quality of the exam or dose to the patient.
As with the imaging physician, an open, professional relationship built on mutual respect and trust between the technologist and medical physicist will lead to the highest quality images for the patient. Each individual needs the freedom to express opinions professionally while recognizing the expertise and experience of the other person. Medical physicists should be able to advise technologists on the individual parameters defining the techniques in producing an optimal image.
Safety net for the organization
When it comes to handling radiation and dosage levels as well as the quality of the machines, a medical physicist acts as a safety net for the entire imaging organization. This includes the physicians, technologists and patients. When imaging physicians, technologists and medical physicists maintain mutual respect for each other and have an open, respectful, consultative environment, everyone, most of all, the patient, wins.