Radiology Departments Need to Unplug

September 12, 2014

Radiology departments are not turning off unused equipment, and racking up dollars.

Radiology departments are significant users of energy, but simple steps can help reduce power consumption, according to an article published in the journal Academic Radiology.

Researchers from St. Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin, Ireland sought to evaluate the level of power consumption in their radiology department and ways to reduce energy use.

The researchers calculated how much power was used for the various devices in the department with a focus on equipment that was left on during periods when they were not being used, such as at night and on weekends. They found that many devices, including 29 of 43 desktop computers and 25 of 27 PACS were not turned off during these off-periods. There was no option to preserve energy by using a “sleep” or “hibernate” mode for the PACS, so the machines had to be either on or off.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"27725","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_2061131618564","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"2736","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 134px; width: 200px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":" ","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

The cost of leaving the equipment on during the night and over weekends resulted in approximately $7,253 per year. In addition, there were CO2 emissions equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 10 passenger cars, the researchers noted.

The radiology department was encouraged to turn off equipment when not in use, however a subsequent audit did not find any improvement.

“Simple steps such as turning off computers and air-conditioning units can produce very significant financial and environmental savings,” the researchers conclude. “Radiology can lead the way in making hospitals more energy efficient.”