Making the Patient Experience Technically Accurate, Safe and Relaxing

Lisa Rooney is a member of the CT or CAT (computerized axial tomography) radiology team who assists the interventional radiology team.  She works closely with patients during their kidney tumor ablation, among other procedures, ensuring safety and accuracy are maximized. One key element of her job is body alignment and accurate positioning. “We must have patients centered correctly on the scanner, since the better the positioning, the lower the radiation.” Rooney is a radiologic technologist with seven years of experience at UCSF. Her areas of greatest interest are patient safety and improving processes and procedures.

“We use equipment with sensing elements. Based on a sensor’s interpretation, it will use different radiation levels for someone depending on their body shape and size. Having the patient properly centered is imperative, because it means there will be less exposure and because the image is of better quality.”  

Rooney emphasized why she takes reducing radiation seriously for each scan, as well as for the long-term. “The scan I am performing for them may just be the start of their journey with X-ray and CT scans -- for that day or over the course of their treatment.”

Precision of positioning is not the only way Rooney and her colleagues improve patient safety.

“We have something unique at UCSF,” added Rooney. “We use bismuth shielding to protect organs such as the breasts and thyroid. Those types of tissues are the most sensitive to radiation. Bismuth shielding can reduce radiation dose up to 30 percent in that area. I haven’t found another hospital that does this.”

Rooney takes pleasure both in working with patients and in the challenges presented by her colleagues. “We try to get the best image possible for the patient, but we also want a good experience -- calm, relaxing, and fast.  As for the people I work with, I enjoy the intelligence of the staff and physicians. We offer some of the most complex procedures because of the caliber of the team.”