A consistent quality control program goes a long way toward maintaining a high standard of image quality within your radiology department. The tests posted within this series are not all-inclusive for every CR system, but may provide as a good start for the beginning stages of any QC program. Variations may occur if your department utilizes a hard-copy laser printer and/or measurement tools at the QC station (or to include the radiologists' work station).
As a general rule of thumb, most CR vendors recommend designating one person as the quality control technologist. Other technologists may be trained in the event of an absence, but testing should be performed as consistently as possible to reduce variables.
Any QC test that does not meet specifications should first be repeated. After a repeat test fails, a qualified service professional should be contacted to troubleshoot the problem. Additionally, after any equipment repairs or replacement of parts, a new baseline should be established.
There may be additional troubleshooting to consider with equipment that might affect the QC testing results as well. If you know of any aspect of the x-ray machine used to perform QC testing that is inconsistent, such as line voltage, mA station linearity problems, or timer malfunctions, these can also be researched prior to contacting the CR reader's service professional. Ideally, the tests would be set up in the beginning to be performed on the most consistent equipment available. Imaging departments may also consider annual contracts with service professionals if consistency may be an issue.
Your quality control manual should be kept in a safe place, but accessible in the event of a state or JCAHO inspection. All results (even failing results) should be documented and maintained within the manual. You may also consider keeping records of service calls and documents related to equipment repair on hand for future analysis. Always watch for trends in test failures and use these trends to determine what service contracts and/or equipment repairs and replacement may best suit the needs of your department.
I hope you've found this series useful. Here is a summary of all of the tests covered:
CR Quality Control #1 - Screen Cleaning
CR Quality Control #2 - Creating a Baseline Phantom Image
CR Quality Control #3 - Exposure Indicator Calibration
CR Quality Control #4 - Contrast Evaluation
CR Quality Control #5 - Sharpness
CR Quality Control #6 - Shading Correction
CR Quality Control #7 - Laser Jitter
CR Quality Control #8 - Image Artifacts and Noise
CR Quality Control #9 - Exposure Linearity
CR Quality Control #10 - Residual Image Testing