On the 8th of November, the world celebrated International Day of Radiology, an annual event aimed at raising awareness of the growing value and important role that radiology plays in the effective contribution to providing safe health care to patients, as well as improving understanding of the vital role that radiology physicians and technologists play in the radiology continuum of care while demonstrating the high educational and professional standards required of all medical imaging professionals.
International Day of Radiology is observed on the 8th of November because it coincides with the day Conrad Röntgen discovered x-rays in 1895. It was first introduced in 2012, as a joint initiative of the European Society of Radiology (ESR), the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), and the American College of Radiology (ACR).
Dr. Tamer Fathi Ali, Consultant Radiologist and Clinical Director of Radiology at PHCC stressed that what PHCC is doing through its Radiology Department is a vivid example of the important role of radiology. PHCC provides many radiology services in all its health centers, such as regular radiology services in 25 health centers, ultrasound services for women and pregnant women in 21 health centers, abdominal and pelvic ultrasound services in 8 health centers, and dental panoramic radiography in 15 health centers.
Dr. Fathi explained that health centers provide regular immediate x-ray examinations for all patients, citizens, and residents, according to their time of arrival to the Radiology Department. The patient must obtain a request for x-rays from the attending physician and then go directly to the Radiology Department for the examination, except for some tests that require the patient to undergo a special preparation, and these are done the next day after making the necessary procedures are undertaken. Ultrasound examinations need to be requested by the attending physician and are done based on a prior appointment, either from the reception or customer service by dialing 107, and patients are given the necessary preparation instructions, if any.
Dr. Fathy said that PHCC is working to diversify the medical staff in the radiology departments to include radiologists, technologists, radiology technicians and ultrasound technicians, in addition to the Radiology Department's endeavor to use the latest technologies to ensure the highest level of quality for all patients, by providing the latest radiology x-ray equipment and advanced ultrasound devices, in addition to connecting all devices with an advanced system for transferring and saving medical images in a manner that allows the radiologist to examine the images from any health center and write the necessary reports.
The attending physician can also view images and reports from any health center in which he is located. The radiology system is also linked between health centers and between other health institutions such as Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and the Medical Commission so that HMC doctors can view radiological examinations. Further, health centers perform certain x-rays requested by the Medical Commission, and images are sent to their image storage system to allow the Medical Commission’s doctors to write their reports.
A project is underway to develop the workflow between PHCC, HMC and the Medical Commission. Another project has already been implemented between PHCC and Sidra Hospital, whereby emergency doctors in Sidra can examine x-rays taken in PHCC’s health centers, which saves a lot of time and avoids repeating the x-ray process.
Speedy radiology reports
Dr. Fathi revealed a set of procedures implemented by PHCC as part of its dedication to improve the provided service and ensure a quick and effective response to the health care needs of patients. Among the implemented improvements is the reduction of the time needed to issue radiology reports to patients as follows:
- Ordinary, non-urgent examinations: the report is issued within a maximum of 24 hours.
- Urgent examinations: the report is issued within a maximum of two hours.
- Very urgent cases: the report is issued within a maximum of 20 minutes, and work is underway to support the Radiology Department to achieve more speed while maintaining accuracy in issuing reports.
Dr. Tamer Fathi said that the Radiology Department carried out many of the tasks entrusted to it in PHCC’s health centers during the coronavirus pandemic:
- During the pandemic, four centers were selected to conduct COVID-19 tests, where x-ray examinations are performed for patients to assess the condition of the chest.
- Ultrasound services were suspended, except for pregnancy follow-ups, as of March 2020 to reduce patients’ visits to health centers.
- Extra safety precautions were taken to prevent transmission of infection to both patients and staff while visiting radiology departments.
- Resumption of work in all radiology services as of June 2020 to serve all health centers’ clients, and this step was greatly welcomed by patients.
Dr. Fathi added that in order to ensure the overall quality in the Radiology Department, PHCC has specified many policies and standards that ensure the existence of a unified system compatible with the latest international systems to provide optimal levels of safety in diagnostic imaging services, and to meet all accreditation requirements in providing radiology service, such as ensuring the quality of all radiology equipment in health centers and performing regular checks of these devices along with the required periodic maintenance as well as licensing, registration and record keeping procedures. The Radiology Department aims to ensure the highest levels of patient safety, reduce risks, enhance patient care, and maintain patients’ trust through accurate diagnosis and efficient services.
Dr. Fathy explained that ensuring safety from ionizing radiation is paramount. This protection is based on the basic principles, which is the existence of a justification for x-ray examination and the use of the minimum dose of radiation required to provide diagnostic information, taking into account the permissible limit of exposure to radiation. PHCC has a special department for radiation safety. This department is responsible for protecting health centers’ employees and visitors from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation and ensuring adherence to international guidelines and standards on radiation safety.
The number of x-ray examinations provided in health centers in 2021, from January to the end of September, totaled about 82,277 x-rays, 16,572 abdominal and pelvic ultrasounds, and 27,545 pregnancy ultrasounds, while dental panoramic radiography reached about 44119 examinations.