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Caribbean Experts Improve Quality Practices in Diagnostic Radiology

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Twenty-one experts attended the training course to learn more about the application of quality practices in diagnostic radiology, including medical radiation technologists, a medical physicist and students from across the region. (Photo: IAEA)

In the field of diagnostic radiology, quality assurance (QA) plays a pivotal role in ensuring that the required quality standards and safety practices are in place, and that diagnoses are efficient and accurate, leading to improved outcomes for patients. In collaboration with the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, USA, and as part of an ongoing regional technical cooperation (TC) project[1], the IAEA recently conducted a virtual regional training course to support professionals in the Caribbean in their application of quality practices in diagnostic radiology.

The IAEA continues to provide support to countries to help  improve their delivery of radiation medicine services, both through virtual events and remote learning. Originally planned as a face-to-face training course with practical sessions, the event was converted to an online course. Held from 28 September to 8 October, it provided technical guidance on quality assurance and quality control for image optimization and radiation protection of patients and workers.

“There is a wealth of evidence showing that quality assurance has a positive impact on improving image quality during routine clinical practice,” said Virginia Tsapaki, Diagnostic Radiology Medical Physicist at the IAEA’s Dosimetry and Medical Radiation Physics Section. “Building a quality culture is important since poor quality imaging can impair diagnoses and contribute to unnecessary radiation exposure for both patients and staff.”

The two-week virtual event was organized and held with the support of experts from the Argonne National Laboratory. (Photo: Argonne National Laboratory)

This is the second training event to be implemented under the ongoing regional project, with an earlier face-to-face training course held in Houston, Texas, in March 2019.

Twenty-one experts attended the training course, including medical radiation technologists, a medical physicist and students from Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.

Participants attended lectures which included practical demonstrations and, supported by IAEA and international experts, examined topics ranging from basic radiation safety and quality assurance principles to the benefits and risks of X-ray that could impact the clinical management of patients. The participants also learned how the quality of diagnostic imaging is regularly improved and maintained.

“The presentations have been very informative, showing us ways to improve both safety and quality assurance practices without a burdensome outlay, in terms of resources,” said Venice Gill, a Senior Radiographer at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Bridgetown, Barbados. “The availability of the [teaching] materials online will assist in the preparation of in-service training programs for medical radiation technologists here.”

“Workshop participants expressed appreciation for the opportunity to interact virtually with an excellent group of experts who provided a wealth of valuable information,” said Sunaree Hamilton, Head of the International Programme Section at Argonne National Laboratory. “As noted in the final evaluation, participants intend to share knowledge received with others, develop country-specific training modules and guides, and implement improvements to the quality assurance program in their institutions.”

“The presentations were adapted for the online format... and the use of the chat room provided great opportunities for the participants to interact with the experts,” said Francisco Aguirre, Senior Medical Physicist at Argonne National Laboratory, and Course Director. (Photo: S. Hamilton/Argonne National Laboratory)

The virtual training course also provided valuable experience for the organizers and instructors involved. “The presentations were adapted for the online format and included many quizzes and videos of quality control activities, and the use of the chat room provided great opportunities for the participants to interact with the experts,” said Francisco Aguirre, Senior Medical Physicist at Argonne National Laboratory, and Course Director.

Lessons learned from this virtual course will be incorporated into future training activities. “Although it is always better to have the practical exercises conducted in a medical facility, the demonstrators did their best  to explain and demonstrate remotely the various QC tests that a medical radiology technologist should be practicing,” said Sienna Matthew-Regis, a Senior Radiographer at Owen King European Union Hospital in Castries, St. Lucia.

This virtual training is an opportunity for countries in the Caribbean to gain practical, new information and it will assist the region to strengthen and expand the availability of diagnostic radiology services, as part of a broader set of planned activities to improve human capacities in radiation medicine in the region.

[1] RLA6081, ‘Strengthening Human Capacities of Caribbean Countries in Radiation Medicine’

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