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Quality management systems in radiology

Introduction

A good quality management system is essential to a safe and efficiently run medical imaging department, providing quality clinical images while maintaining patient and staff radiation doses as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA).  Quality management includes all aspects of medical imaging technology such as room and workflow design, equipment selection, equipment purchase, installation oversight, acceptance testing, commissioning, quality control, on-going equipment maintenance and support, and disposal at the end of the equipment’s useful life.  Quality management must also provide oversight of imaging informatics systems in the imaging department as this has become an integral part of the today’s imaging department.

Important Principles

The medical physicist must understand all of the essential elements of a quality management system and have the ability to design the structure of such systems.  The key to quality management is a good understanding of the basics including the concepts of quality assurance, quality control, and continuous quality improvement.  In addition, a knowledge and appreciation of the quality gurus of the twentieth century is important.

There is a great amount of quality management material available on the internet.  Topics include six sigma, lean manufacturing, and total quality management, to name just a few.

The most important goal of quality management is a quality orientated mindset for all department staff.  Many people today do not think in terms of quality in their job and assigned tasks.  It is important for everyone to realize that staff must ”Think quality, plan for quality, work for quality, and you will get quality!”

Introduction to References

Both IAEA and ISO provide material on quality management.  IAEA provides a PowerPoint presentation on organizing a quality assurance program in diagnostic radiology.

The American Society for Quality (ASQ) provides a wealth of material on quality management.  In addition, material about the Gurus of quality (Demming, Crosby, and Juran) is available and invaluable in gaining an understanding of the quality philosophy.