Quality improvement in radiography in a neonatal intensive care unit.
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OBJECTIVE: The primary objective of this study was to ensure that X-rays performed consistently adhere to established technological quality standards and are achieved without compromising patient care while minimizing exposure risks. The secondary objective was to evaluate whether educational sessions targeting areas deemed suboptimal would facilitate improvement. METHODS: A retrospective, 1-week review of all neonatal X-rays and documentation of clinical information on X-ray requisitions (n = 132) was completed in a tertiary care neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), by a single observer. Standards for X-ray evaluation were defined a priori based on radiographic principles and essential documented medical information for correct interpretation. Targeted areas for improvement were identified and addressed through brief educational sessions and printed pamphlets. The review was repeated after recommendations were implemented, 1 month (n = 93) and 1 year (n = 76) later. RESULTS: Improvements were evident in both the completion of X-ray requisitions and image quality. In particular, there was a statistically significant improvement in requisition legibility (P = 0.019), completeness of the medical history (P < 0.001), reduction in X-ray rotation (P < 0.001), collimation to the specific area of interest (P < 0.001), gonadal shielding (P < 0.001), and decrease in monitor leads or artifacts obscuring views (P < 0.001). These improvements were sustained both 1 month and 1 year following the educational sessions. CONCLUSION: A neonatal X-ray audit is a simple, effective way to evaluate radiographic technique and encourage provision of basic clinical information for diagnostic interpretation by radiologists and neonatologists. As well, structured, collaborative educational sessions between radiology and neonatology staff appear to be a successful and sustainable method to effect overall improvement.
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