Surprise: Quality Control Also Boosts Productivity in 3-D Labs

January 10, 2012

Quality improvement doesn’t necessarily have to slow things down, according to a new study in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Quality improvement doesn’t necessarily have to slow things down, according to a new study in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

A Stanford University team looking to measure the impact of their quality-control program on error rates in the generation of three-dimensional CT and MRI images found that not only did the program sharpen accuracy, but it also upped the radiology team’s productivity.

The team was led by Laura Pierce, RT, now administrative director of Duke University’s Multi-Dimensional Image Processing Laboratory. For three months, she and colleagues considered average error rates in reports by six 3-D technologists as the group went through error-reduction training. The team continued measuring error rates for nine months after the training.

The researchers saw a sharp drop in error rates – from 16.1 percent during the first three months to 7.2 percent during the nine-month follow-up. What’s more, the six technologists tackled a 7.6 percent average monthly increase in examination volume during those nine months, with a higher proportion of examinations having a turnaround time of four hours or less.

Technologists with more than four years’ experience did best, with average error rates of 5.2 percent, less than half the 10.6 percent among less-experienced technologists. But the training had a much greater impact on the inexperienced technologists, Pierce and colleagues found.