Wanted: QA specialist; RT experience required

May 27, 2004

The general agreement that quality assurance is essential to the production of diagnostic-quality digital images lays a foundation for inclusion of QA specialists on employee rosters. "It is time to establish and implement functioning QA specialists in

The general agreement that quality assurance is essential to the production of diagnostic-quality digital images lays a foundation for inclusion of QA specialists on employee rosters.

"It is time to establish and implement functioning QA specialists in every digital department," Ellen Charkot, an MR technologist at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, said at a SCAR University session during the SCAR 2004 meeting.

QA is an important component in providing healthcare, particularly in the field of digital radiography, she said. Given today's highly charged high-technology environment, the QA specialist is integral to providing radiologists with timely and accurate images.


"In terms of training, knowledge, understanding, and conceptualizing technological improvements, the technologist is the ideal candidate for this position," Charkot said.

The ideal job description for a QA specialist might include:
· Set up an educational program to train department technologists in image production.
· Ensure image quality and address errors in image production.
· Communicate with team members, department staff, and clinicians.
· Advocate for standardization among manufacturers.
· Advocate for improvements in advanced software.

"QA encompasses all those activities that contribute to ensuring consistent, maximum performance and production," Charkot said.

In the digital department this means ensuring that acquisition and display devices are properly calibrated, exam parameters are appropriately chosen, demographic information is accurate, and diagnostic-quality images are properly processed and displayed.

Unlike conventional film, digital radiography separates image capture from image display and storage. While this allows optimization of the image at each step, it also involves more steps, increasing the potential for error.

"Precision and accuracy in the production of images are even more essential than before," Charkot said.

Although assessment of image quality has always been a part of radiographers' training, many radiographers now working in the field were trained on screen-film, which continues to be the primary focus of training programs.

"Advances in technology that led to digital imaging demand a different educational paradigm," she said.

It has been suggested that an effective QA team should include a physicist, radiologist, and technologist, and that the primary role of establishing and maintaining quality must be filled by someone on that team, Charkot said.

"I propose that this role should ideally be filled by a specifically trained technologist," she said.