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St. Vincent's Radiology Department Named "Best"

St. Vincent's Radiology Department voted bestSafety First

The Imaging Department at St. Vincent’s Medical Center performs more than 130,000 imaging procedures a year. The multi-modality department includes x-ray, ultrasound, digital mammography, CT, MRI, PET, and SPECT.

All of these sophisticated exams, as well as an array of interventional procedures, are conducted by a highly specialized group of board-certified clinicians and radiological technologists. Moreover, the department is accredited in every modality by the American College of Radiology.

Clearly, state-of-the-art technology, skilled professionals and industry recognition are all admirable assets of St. Vincent’s Imaging Department. However, according to Rachel Giliotti,MBA, RT, Imaging Department director, the team is most proud of its ongoing commitment to patient safety.

“We’ve created a safety culture and our entire staff is enthusiastic about it and solidly invested in it,” said Giliotti. “The overall goal is to lower our serious safety event rate.” According to Giliotti, St. Vincent’s Imaging Department has always had a very robust radiation safety program. As an outgrowth, safety in general throughout the department has become a key initiative as well. In March 2011, the department introduced safety coaches—specifically, three radiological technologists were assigned to serve in this capacity throughout the various modalities.

Their goal is three-fold: to act as role models for safe behaviors; to identify any barriers to safety;and to share stories about good catches and safety successes.

“The commitment and passion of our coaches has heightened our safety efforts throughout the imaging department and improved the quality of care we deliver to our patients,” said Giliotti. Under the guidance of the coaches, the St. Vincent’s team has implemented a number of critical safety tactics. Practicing 200% accountability, validating and verifying one another, and following a red rule to always use two patient identifiers are just a few examples of the group’s proactive safety strategies.

But it is the overall philosophy aboutsafety that permeates the department—as much as the specific practices—that makes the initiative so successful. Everyone works together as a team toward a common goal. Most importantly, staff and technologists are empowered to speak up if they are concerned about an incorrect order or a patient’s plan of care.

Cross-departmental communication and collaboration is another valuable contributor to improving safety in the imaging department. The group’s safety coaches attend monthly meetings with safety coaches from other departments throughout the medical center to share their experiences and brainstorm solutions.

In addition, the imaging department’s management team participates in a “hospital-wide daily safety huddle,” said Giliotti. “There is an ongoing exchange of fresh ideas and strategies that continually raises the bar for best safety practices.”

Results and Recognition

At St. Vincent’s Imaging Department, the safety initiative is showing strong results. For example, the group created a benchmarking program to monitor and report the amount of fluoroscopy time used in procedures. “Since we began the program, we have significantly reduced our fluoroscopy times and lowered radiation exposure for patients,” said Giliotti.

What’s more, in November 2011, the department was awarded a “Putting Patients First” grant from AHRA & Toshiba America Medical Systems, Inc. The grant recognizes health care providers who strive to improve patient care and safety in diagnostic imaging for pediatrics and adults.

St. Vincent’s Imaging Department used the grant to create a high-visibility educational campaign about radiation safety across the entire medical center. Through print posters and online materials, the department is spreading the radiation safety message to staff, administrators and physicians across the spectrum of the institution.

The true benefactors of the imaging team’s dynamic and proactive approach to improving safety are the patients themselves. St. Vincent’s Imaging Department is recognized as a vital community resource where patients receive compassionate, quality care and enjoy an ever-growing confidence that their safety comes first.

Pictured above is the Imaging service line management team. From left to right, Kelli Hannan BS RT(R)(CT),Radiology Manager, Rachel Giliotti MBA, RT (R)(T), Director of Imaging, Dorlyn Lunde McGee BS RT(R)(M), Radiology Manager, Lorrie Thanas BS RT (R)(M), Women’s Imaging Manager.

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