DEP Announces Pilot Dental X-ray Equipment Survey Program

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulates the use of medical and dental X-ray equipment in the commonwealth. This equipment must perform to certain acceptable standards to maintain patient radiation dose at an optimal level. The DEP’s Bureau of Radiation Protection (BRP) routinely performs on-site evaluations of all Pennsylvania dental X-ray facilities on a periodic basis. These routine surveys are performed to ensure regulatory compliance, and to evaluate dental film processing and patient X-ray doses throughout the commonwealth.

This article is to inform the PDA membership that BRP has contracted with an independent firm, DIQUAD, LLC, to carry out a pilot program of evaluating intraoral image quality and radiation dose. This pilot program is being conducted at no cost to the dental facility. Please note, this evaluation is an enhancement to our program. It should NOT be considered a substitute for an on-site inspection.

Over the next few years, a random sample of several hundred dental facilities will receive a packet of materials by mail from DIQUAD. This packet will include a brief survey form, one dental image quality and dose Analyzer TM for each intraoral X-ray unit in a dental office, a control radiation dosimeter, detailed instructions and a stamped addressed envelope to return the materials to DIQUAD.

The BRP asks that you promptly expose one AnalyzerTM on each intraoral unit at your facility. The dental films in the AnalyzerTMshould then be removed and processed at your facility using your usual film processing methods. If you are using digital imaging, the digital images should be sent to DIQUAD via email including the analyzer serial number. You may also transfer the digital image(s) to a CD-ROM and mail them to DIQUAD.

Once your images and the radiation dose information have been analyzed, BRP will receive a summary report from DIQUAD. Within three months after you return the AnalyzerTM and other materials, the BRP will send you an individual written report and advise you of how your image quality and patient radiation dose(s) compare to the dental community as a whole and, if any are necessary, offer suggestions for improvements.

DEP is hopeful this new tool will assist in improving dental image quality, reducing patient radiation dose, prioritizing BRP dental facility inspections and minimizing inspection impact on your dental practice. Please, do not discard this device if mailed to your facility! The BRP is seeking your cooperation and assistance in this valuable service to you and your patients.

If you have any questions for BRP, please do not hesitate to contact Sandra L. Martin, X-ray and Accelerator Program Supervisor, at (717) 787-3720.