Ensuring accurate diagnosis

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Injuries and unknown ailments occur often, hindering the human body. The 509th Medical Support Squadron radiology is here to assist in diagnosing these injuries and unknown ailments with sound judgment, and reliable technique.

The radiology department takes care of all the active duty, retirees, civilians and government employees who are referred to us from the medical group. They handle referrals, process requests and set them up with their provider. They collectively perform all the routine radiology exams on base.

Each exam is different depending on the individual, room and technique.
"Images vary upon a person's anatomy and our equipment settings have to; we have to control how many photons we are giving them," Senior Airman Steven Hayes, 509th MDSS Radiology Journeyman. "We calculate the amount of energy (photons) needed based on the size of the person and the body part that is being imaged. For example, a person with a higher muscle mass will require an increased number of photons due to muscle's density."

In addition, they network with Western Missouri Medical Center and perform exams on Security Forces military working dogs.

"We have an agreement with the Western Missouri Medical Center in which the Airmen maintain proficiency in areas of their training currently unavailable within the clinic," said Tech Sgt. Marvin Morris II, 509th MDSS NCOIC of Radiology Department. "The training involves rotating through other facets of radiology such as surgical imaging, performance of emergency room procedures, and mobile imaging in intensive care units; all things that are performed regularly in larger facilities."

The Radiology course training is fourteen months in length; phase one is five months, which entails learning the fundamentals of anatomy and positioning in a classroom. Phase two is nine months, which combines operational experience a hospital working in real world scenarios coupled with additional classroom training that builds on information learned in Phase one.

The radiology department performs a number of exams on military working dogs as well. This ensures the K9's are capable of supporting the mission.

We assist them by coordinating with the Army veterinarians and security forces use our facilities and we schedule them on a monthly basis or as needed. We created a standard operating procedure and continuity binder for further use when new technologists arrive, so they can be up to speed. "After the examination is complete, we burn the images to a compact disk or hard copy for the veterinarians and security forces members to take with them," said Morris. "Without our assistance, the K9 units must often travel to Fort Leavenworth or Fort Leonard-Wood to obtain these imaging services. Together we aid in expediting this process and provide the images that are taken next level of care the dogs need."

Aside from training and ensuring the Whiteman populous and military working dogs are treated properly, the radiology shop must ensure the pilots and Airmen in the personal reliability program are accurately diagnosed.

"Pilots must have chest x-ray appointments their initial flight physicals. This exam ensures their lungs are functioning properly to receive oxygen and there is no unknown ailment," said Hayes.

Attention to detail and laziness is not permitted for the slightest miscalculation can result in serious consequences.

"If we are performing a chest x-ray on a pilot and we do not produce images to the best of our ability, we can possibly send a pilot into the air with his lungs improperly functioning which puts him and the mission at risk," said Morris. "We must hold ourselves accountable to prevent such an incident from hindering the mission. The images must be of highest quality so they can receive an accurate diagnosis."

To ensure they are maintaining excellence and efficiency, the radiology shop work to improve their weaknesses into strengths.

"We a have a peer review program that we perform on a monthly basis," said Morris. "We randomly select 40 previous exams and verify them for mark replacement, positioning and technique error."  The radiology department staff continuously monitors exams to make sure they are performing at the highest standard of care.  If any issues are noted, the staff conducts training to ensure all members maintain that high standard.

The radiology shop takes pride in everything they do to ensure Whiteman receives proper treatment.

"I love the job, said Morris. "I love working with different people, hearing their stories and measuring their progression until they recover. It's very refreshing knowing I'm doing something that benefits a person's well-being."