About EuroSafe Imaging
EuroSafe Imaging is the European Society of Radiology’s flagship initiative to promote quality and safety in medical imaging. The mission of EuroSafe Imaging is to support and strengthen medical radiation protection across Europe following a holistic, inclusive approach.
Promoting appropriateness in radiological imaging
- DIAGNOSTIC REFERENCE LEVELS (DRLs)
Maintaining radiation doses within diagnostic reference levels
- ‘AS LOW AS REASONABLY ACHIEVABLE’ (ALARA)
Using the ALARA principle and promoting the use of up-to-date equipment to further reduce doses while maintaining image quality
- EMPOWERING PATIENTS
Empowering patients through better information and improved communication
- JOINING FORCES
Bringing together various stakeholders including
– national radiological societies
– subspecialty societies of radiology
– related professional organisations
– patient organisations
– European and international organisations
– regulatory bodies
Outreach through website, newsletters, sessions in conferences, training material and social media
Development of specific criteria for safe CT, mammography, radiography and image-guided interventions in individual body parts
Organisation of dedicated Radiation Protection Orientation Sessions in collaboration with subspecialty societies and e-learning materials
- ADVANCING THE FIELD
Initiating European projects and obtaining funding for radiation protection activities
Launch at ECR 2014
EuroSafe Imaging was officially launched at the European Congress of Radiology in March 2014. EuroSafe Imaging events at ECR 2014 included a dedicated session and poster exhibition. All the EuroSafe Imaging posters exhibited at ECR 2014 are available in the eurosafeimaging.org poster section.
Video Introduction to EuroSafe Imaging
To capture the reasons for launching EuroSafe Imaging and its expected impact, the ESR has produced a video about EuroSafe Imaging that highlights the comprehensive approach of the campaign, with interviewees representing radiology, radiography, medical physics and international organisations.
Check out this video to find out why it is important to communicate the various components of radiation protection to a wider audience, how EuroSafe Imaging can contribute to creating a new patient safety paradigm, and why this is just the right time for this initiative!
The European Context
Europe is unique and it has the potential for coordinated radiation safety actions in medical imaging.
What makes Europe unique?
In Europe, the EURATOM Directive is binding on European member states and EURATOM has regulated medical radiation protection, including x-rays, since the 1990’s. EURATOM stands for European Atomic Energy Community. No other region, or country, has something similar. In the USA, each state has its own regulatory mechanism for x-rays, as federal laws regulate the use of radioisotopes in medicine (nuclear radiation), through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), but not x-rays. The requirements issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are not binding on IAEA member states; they are voluntary international standards. In the 1990’s, when the Maastricht Treaty was signed, there was a vision to have something like a standardised European x-ray system, where the patient could travel from one European country to another with their doses being recorded. This led to the development of quality criteria for image quality and patient dose. Europe also established diagnostic reference levels (DRLs) that became one of the most important tools for optimisation in patient radiation protection. The European Commission has supported these developments through a variety of projects. While the Directives need to be incorporated into national regulatory systems by European member states, Europe’s largest radiological society, the European Society of Radiology (ESR) plays an important role as a technical advisor in the implementation of the Directives through professional channels. The need for this has never been greater.
Why do we need EuroSafe Imaging?
Not since x-rays were first used in medical imaging has there been such an interest in radiation protection for patients. With cumulative patient radiation doses reaching levels never seen before there has been some over-exposure, resulting in visible injuries to patients and the overuse of computed tomography (CT), which has become a more patient friendly and clinically valuable imaging technique, with the prospect of it becoming used like a simple radiograph (e.g. chest x-ray). Much of the use is justified, but there are a number of publications indicating that, typically, a quarter or more of examinations may not meet appropriateness criteria. EuroSafe Imaging is a campaign designed to meet the needs of the present, but the roots of its vision to promote the appropriate and safe use of imaging, as well as the utilisation of features in dose efficient equipment, through the cooperation of stakeholders began decades ago.
What will EuroSafe Imaging do?
The ESR has already taken part in a number of EC projects in the area of medical radiation protection. A steering committee for EuroSafe Imaging is currently being established. Recently, a consortium led by the ESR was awarded a project by the EC to establish diagnostic reference levels (DRLs) for paediatric examinations. The ESR has previously pursued a number of projects in cooperation with the European Federation of Organisations for Medical Physics (EFOMP), European Federation of Radiographer Societies (EFRS), Heads of the European Radiological Protection Competent Authorities (HERCA), European Association of Nuclear Medicine (EANM), European Society for Radiotherapy & Oncology (ESTRO), subspecialty radiological societies, such as the Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe (CIRSE) and the European Paediatric Radiology Society (ESPR). The ESR has also worked with major international organisations like the European Commission, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Scientific Commission on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) and the International Commission on Radiological Protection. Collectively approaching the implementation of radiation protection, motivating countries to translate guidelines into their own languages, creating mechanisms for feedback and providing certification, later on, will meet the ESR’s vision of safe imaging for patients.
Steps already taken include:
- The publication of the ‘ESR Statement on Radiation Protection: Globalisation, Personalised Medicine and Safety (the GPS approach)’ in the September 2013 issue of Insights into Imaging, which provides details about the holistic approach. Click here to read the full article.
- A radiation protection orientation session for department chairs and senior radiologists. Information on this session is available here.
About the ESR
The ESR is the world’s largest radiological society with more than 60,000 individual members from 155 countries, 43 institutional member societies across Europe, 15 European subspecialty & allied sciences member societies and 41 non-European associate institutional members. The ESR’s mission is to serve the healthcare needs of the general public by supporting science, education, research, and quality of service in the field of radiology.