RADIOGRAPHER: AN IMPORTANT IMAGE PRODUCER
A pleasant coffee (and less-sweet Teh Tarik!) session last night with a long lost buddy, a well experienced Radiology Manager opened up my mind to the importance of maintaining a satisfactory competency level among radiographers.
A radiographer by profession is a university-trained health professional who works with cutting edge technology to produce X-rays, Computed Tomography scans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans and other medical images to assist the Radiologists and other doctors to diagnose, monitor or treat a patient’s injury or illness. In short, they are the one who produce images which then to be one of the essential components to the attending doctors in making a right decision for the patient recovery program; one of key element in the whole patient process.
An inaccurate images produced may cause a wrong interpretation to the Radiologist report and resulted to a bigger glitch that may occur in the treatment options by the attending doctor. Possibility that contributed to the issue are varies, but the bottom-line of these are commonly directed to human error. Inexperience of radiographer in dealing with their task is most common factors and this was due to the direction of the hospital in minimizing their operation variable cost- wages. It is a well-known understanding that less experienced operator comes with a lower remuneration package demand and vice-versa. On top of this, running the radiology department with a very minimal numbers of manning structure caused to difficulty of the seniors to guide new-comers on proper ways in delivering good quality images.
Similar to other professions, fatigue could also be another aspect in contributing to the issue due to high load of patients in a day and even worse if the radiographer just went through a long busy on-call duty. Patients process were done in less focused manner as ‘just another patient’ approach especially those procedures done at later shift period; a scenario when the operator’s mind is somewhere else instead of to the patient lying down in the MRI machines.
I am 100% sure that each process of diagnostic imaging procedure done would have a complete set of manual and parameters that all operators must follow in dealing with their daily tasks. But again, being human will always prone to complaisant and mistakes without realizing the impact of each blunders will cause a huge implication to another human and the organization itself.
How to minimize or overcome this issue?
Coaching is the most common technique as it would give a fast, almost zero cost and effective solution. New-comers MUST be attached to the well experienced seniors in dealing with all modalities available at the center or commonly known as OJT – On Job Training. But, this could only be done with a proper effective operators scheduling with minimal hassle in operation flow. Each patient procedure should be done in appropriate waiting time although both radiographers (mentor & mentee) will be handling the same patient in one particular time. ‘Graduated’ junior will only be assign to the real task alone once the mentor feels that he/she had reached the desired level of skills needed.
Radiology will always be parallel with cutting edge technology at any point of time. Accuracy and quality of images are mostly related to the level of hardware and software package available for both Radiologist and Radiographers n maximizing their technical skill. Hence, a consistent training and conference on latest tools available in the market should be done consistently. Train the trainer method would be the best option to the Head of Department to choose in minimizing cost of training fee and other related cost.
We have to agree that a low operation cost would reduce billing to patients or give the organization a luxury of higher profit margin; rule of thumb! But in delivering a good patient experience and to avoid any unwanted hiccups, each operation departments must be manned by a reasonable ideal number of operators. A satisfied customer is the best source of advertisement and a customer talking about their experience with you is worth ten times that which you write or say about yourself.
Anyway, to be strategic is to concentrate on what is important, on those few objectives that can give us a comparative advantage, on what is important to us rather than others, and to plan and execute the resulting plan with determination and steadfastness – Richard Koch.
KPJ Klang Specialist Hospital