Children’s Radiation Safety

X-rays and CT (computed tomography) scans are useful diagnostic tools that use radiation to view bone and tissue inside the body. However, repeated exposure to radiation during a person’s life (cumulative exposure) can put them at higher risk for cancer.

CT scans are responsible for more than 40% of the cumulative diagnostic radiation exposures to patients. Medicare radiography costs are over $14 billion dollars a year and it is estimated that 20-50% of the scans are unnecessary.

Although there are times when a CT scan is the best tool to diagnose a medical condition, there are ways to minimize the patient’s exposure to radiation.

WSHA supports efforts to optimize radiation exposure in children by providing training, education, tools and patient education materials as well as data. Strategies and measures have been developed in strong partnership with the 100K Children Campaign. For more information contact

Safe Imaging Tool Kit


1. Optimizing DLP (Dose Length Product) – ensuring that DLP is appropriate for patient age/size and protocol within acceptable ranges to optimize safety and enhance clinically viable images. WSHA supports DIR as a platform.

 2. Disseminating PECARN – educating ordering providers and peers as to when pediatric head CTs were warranted was noted to have reduced the ordering of CT Head studies by 20% during the study, thus optimizing when exams were ordered. WSHA supports R-SCAN as a platform. 

3. Supporting Child-Sized Protocols – adjusting the parameters of an exam to fit the pediatric patient based on age/size categories and target ranges for DLP is expected to optimize safety and clinical image quality… noting that one size does not fit all.

Dose Optimization:

Before using a CT scan, medical staff will be asked to consider alternatives. If they decide a CT scan is necessary, the dose should be adjusted for the size of the patient, including smaller doses for children.

Reduce Unnecessary Exposure Through Right Order, Right Scan:

Implement protocols, procedures, algorithms, and guidelines to help your staff and clinicians make safer imaging choices for children.

NEMA XR-29 (MITA Smart Dose) Standard

Measure Definition Sheets

Click here for the Quality Benchmarking System page.

Previous Measure Definition Sheets


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