The Pediatric Swallow Study Team

Pediatric Swallow Study Team

Jared Austin, Pediatrics, Janet Franco, Environmental Health & Radiation Safety, Joseph Gilhooly, Pediatrics, Steven Gorsek, Doernbecher Rehabilitation Services, Tom Griglock, Radiology, Katharine Hopkins, Doernbecher Radiology, Daniel Kenron, Pediatric Administration, Nancy Sinden, Speech/Audiology, CDRC & Windy Stevenson, Pediatrics

Submitted by Windy Stevenson, Pediatrics

Once in a while, instinct followed by a little hard work can make an incredible difference. That's what happens in this story.

For years DCH has been providing swallow studies to high risk infants and children to understand swallowing difficulties and determine the safest way to feed kids. This is a pretty straightforward study in which the patient ingests barium and we use fluoroscopy to observe the swallow. Fluoroscopy exposes children to radiation, which we now know can induce cancers in relatively low doses.

For this reason, we have always been careful about trying to limit the exposure. Here's where the story gets interesting: this team had a hunch that they could reduce the exposure even further. Even though their numbers were close to national norms, and no one was complaining, they saw opportunities to set a new bar. So, they set out to do just that. And guess what!? In a few short months, with a few high-impact interventions, the Pediatric Swallow Study Team has cut the monthly pediatric radiation exposure from swallow studies in half! Doernbecher is now outperforming even the best published centers.

Children are less likely to get cancer because of them... And they have done it in an interdisciplinary team with no new resources, and without anyone telling them they had to. Awesome.