October 12, 2017

Changing the Shape of DR Panels Doesn’t Guarantee a Better Outcome

When a patient needs a radiograph for diagnostic purposes bedside, they are often in a state of high stress. They are worried about what the images could reveal and potentially in a great deal of pain. Historically, patient comfort wasn’t always considered a priority. But as value-based care continues to drive the patient experience, it is more and more important to anticipate and improve the way we treat patients as fellow human beings.

Coming into a hospital room and shoving a cold DR panel under someone already in pain can make the situation much worse for the patient.

So manufacturers of medical imaging devices and accessories, like Reina Imaging, try to provide innovations that reflect this growing awareness of the patient experience.

Recently, some mobile flat panel detectors are being made with beveled edges. At first glance, it seems like an advantage, to positioning the DR panel beneath a patient’s body part.

But if the procedure is done correctly, that tapered edge shouldn’t even come into play. Radiographers are trained to lift any patient who can’t lift him or herself, or to use the bed sheet to roll the patient on their side, and place the imaging receptor into place, and roll the patient gently onto the imaging receptor. We then should reverse the steps for removal.

Beveled edges can encourage techs to jam or force the receptor beneath the patient, rather than fully stress-relieving them, as we are trained. This can cause discomfort, tapered edge or no tapered edge. This particular design change seems to suggest that a receptor can be slid or driven beneath the weight of the patient. This is not the correct way to position for a portable radiograph. Also, having a fully rounded edge can make it difficult to position for portable cross table exams that are done without another device such as a Table Top DR Panel Holder.

It isn’t just a matter of patient comfort; ensuring a relaxed and comfortable environment is fundamental to getting a high-quality image. Patient motion is an issue in general radiography and other modalities as well. Image quality can be partly dependent on a patient’s ability to lie still in an enclosed space or hold his breath for the required amount of time. One in five MR studies requires a repeat due to patient motion, according to a recent study by the University of Washington (Neuroimage, August 10, 2017.)

So it’s also a function of the bottom line. Poor images have a negative impact on the patient experience, and on workflow. The desire to expedite the work process might be compromised by the loss of an opportunity to successfully treat a patient in crisis.

Research continues to show a strong correlation between a positive patient experience and clinical effectiveness. Be sure the equipment you use doesn’t get in the way of those two primary goals. Just because it’s new doesn’t always mean it’s better. Let’s talk about your needs, before you order.