Radiation exposure tracking: survey of unique patient identification number in 40 countries.
(Journal Article;Multicenter Study)
OBJECTIVE: The purposes of this study were to survey in 40 countries the availability and use of unique patient identification numbers for radiologic examinations to facilitate radiation exposure tracking and to address plans for nationwide use of PACS networks and regulations in support of tracking. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The survey was conducted with a web-based questionnaire sent to contacts and counterparts of the International Atomic Energy Agency medical exposure projects unit. RESULTS: A unique patient identification number was available in 33 of 40 countries (82.5%) that participated in the survey and is used in the medical record and for tracking of imaging examinations in 18 of the 33 (54.5%). PACS infrastructures connecting a few hospitals within a country are fairly widespread (32 of 40 countries [80%]), and a very good infrastructure connecting most hospitals in a country was available in 15% (6 of 40 countries). Approximately one half of the participating countries (21 of 40) have plans for establishing a national PACS. Regulations regarding tracking of patient x-ray radiation exposures were found to exist in 30% of the countries. CONCLUSION: It is highly encouraging to note that most of the countries in which the survey was administered already have unique identification numbers for citizens and that nearly one half of these countries are using the number whenever a patient undergoes a medical imaging examination. Furthermore, nearly one half of respondents indicated that lack of technology rather than confidentiality was the reason for not using a patient identifier. That nearly one third of the countries-all 12 in Europe-support regulations requiring the tracking of patient radiation exposure is an important finding.
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