Monday, July 23, 2012

Pediatric X-Rays Might Expose NICU Staff To Radiation

One of the big concerns patients tend to have when they go in for radiation treatment is the negative side effects they may end up enduring as a result of the radiation; after all, radiation has been linked to everything from minor afflictions to cancer, and it is certainly understandable that patients would have at least some level of concern. While the majority of patients can be assuaged, however, by assurances from nurses and doctors that the small, intermittent doses of radiation they receive will not put them in any imminent danger, what may be of bigger concern is the inadvertent radiation exposure nurses are sometimes subjected to; in fact, a recent study that examined x-ray images from a particular Canadian hospital discovered that nearly half of the images acquired showed adult fingers in the image - and many nurses may be unaware of this inadvertent exposure they are receiving.
This same study revealed that more than 10% of images at the hospital in question had been cropped in order to remove fingers in them - and this led to even greater concern, as the hospital can basically be seen as "covering up" the radiation exposure these nurses are subjected to.
In all, the results of an audit of 230 radiographs revealed the following, shocking statistics: 13% of PACs have fingers visible in the direct beam; an additional 10% of fingers were cropped before they were sent to PACS for review; 19% had fingers in the coned area - and in all, this amounts to 42%, a number that is certainly far too high!
Of course, radiation exposure may simply be part of the bargain when one is assigned to work in an area where radiation is used, but it is also true that individuals should be apprised of the risk before being subjected to it; what's more, there are steps that can be taken in order to lessen the amount of radiation exposure emitted.
Educational interventions, it seems, will be the best way to prevent this problem from continuing to worsen, and there is ongoing research exploring the different things that can be done in order to fix this problem; after all, such simple things as increasing communications between the medical radiation technologists and the nurses in the NICU at the time of the acquisition of the image - as well as more precise cropping when the image is actually being acquired - can make a big difference, and can drastically cut down on the shocking numbers that currently reveal a level of radiation exposure that is far too high.

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