SIR releases recommendations for better interventional radiology staffing

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Following a 2014 multicentre survey of members aiming to identify any gaps in the status of interventional radiology staffing, the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) has published 11 new recommendations to help centres meet the growing demand for services.

The survey found that SIR members faced roadblocks to adequate interventional radiology staffing, particularly out of hours. Obtaining access to anaesthesia services and qualified support staff for on-call procedures, were noted as specific difficulties. Published in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology (JVIR), the resulting staffing guidelines are the first ever evidence-based recommendations of this kind.

“Interventional radiology is an integral component of modern health care and excellent patient care requires an efficient and effective interventional radiology department,” says Mark O Baerlocher,  the guidelines’ lead author. “Medical facilities need clear plans to adequately staff interventional radiology teams to ensure access to care and quality outcomes, particularly during off hours.”

Based on those findings, SIR’s new guidelines include a requirement for three nonphysician health care practitioners—at least one of which is a registered nurse—to assist the interventional radiologist for every interventional radiology suite in use. The guidelines also highlight the need for access to anaesthesia services and cross-training of nonphysician staff to allow for flexible staffing in the off hours. SIR also calls for admitting privileges for interventional radiologists and parity with other admitting physicians. The guidelines stress that inadequate resources in these areas impair the practice of clinical interventional radiology and may possibly endanger the mission of an institution.

“On-call and weekend staffing are particularly important so that stable care can be provided on a 24/7 basis, especially given that off-hours patients are often more critically ill than patients undergoing scheduled procedures during the day,” says Baerlocher, who is chief of interventional radiology for the Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie, Canada.

“Adequate interventional radiology staffing ensures timely access to needed therapies, particularly in critical care situations,” says SIR president Charles E Ray Jr an interventional radiologist, professor and chair of the department of radiology at the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago, USA. “Collaboration with other specialties is key to ensuring the flexibility and availability of staff to get the job done, on and off hours.”

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