What is Quality Control?
Why is a Quality Control Program Important?
Nuclear Medicine Gamma Cameras and PET Scanners are sophisticated instruments that require comprehensive performance monitoring. Routine Quality Control is recognized by the Nuclear Medicine Professional Community as vital to the proper functioning of the device and vital to assure the integrity of the diagnostic images produced. Many governmental and professional bodies have provided recommendations on testing procedures and testing frequency to be included in an effective Gamma Camera Quality Control Program.
One part of patient care, an important part that is often overlooked, is a commitment to the performance and monitoring of a Nuclear Medicine Gamma Camera or PET Scanner Quality Control Program.
A Quality Control Program must meet several criteria to be effective, among which are:
The proper tests must be performed regularly and reproducibly by an experienced individual capable of detecting minor problems and taking corrective actions. These tests assure the proper calibration and functioning of the cameras used in diagnostic imaging procedures. Too often in today’s busy clinical settings, quality control procedures are not performed or are performed without adequate knowledge of the expected results or appropriate corrective actions.
The proper techniques and equipment must be used. A Quality control program should follow NEMA Standards and other standards that are recognized by the Nuclear Medicine Community. Improper testing procedures, phantoms or evaluation may invalidate the results and render a Quality Control Program ineffective.
The results must be monitored, analyzed and documented. The testing procedure reports must summarize the performance of the gamma cameras, summaries which include highlighting any problems or negative trends. The reports must also facilitate proactive maintenance of an Institution’s assets. A well monitored and documented program is not only crucial to providing excellent patient care, but would be valuable in demonstrating, to accreditation bodies (JCAHO) or internal quality monitoring committees, an Institutions dedication to quality assurance. A solid, documented Quality Control Program would also be valuable in defending against malpractice litigation. A Quality Control Program that is not documented is one that is considered not performed. Performing Quality Control tests without proper and through analysis is no better than performing no testing at all.
An effective Gamma Camera / PET Scanner Quality Control Program is one that meets or exceeds the requirements, and assures that the diagnostic images are free of camera based artifacts. The tests must be performed in a consistent, high quality manner, which yields consistent results for trending analysis and are not subject to variations based on different operators or protocols.