Radiation safety is of top priority in the Medical Imaging department at NorthCrest Medical Center.. We practice what is known as ALARA, “As Low As Reasonably Achievable”. Radiographers and Radiologists at NorthCrest Medical Center share in the responsibility to keep the occupational and nonoccupational absorbed dose equivalents as low as is possible. In our practice, this translates into keeping the doses of radiation well below the maximum allowable levels. This is achieved through the employment of proper safety procedures for our patients and ourselves.
Patient protection during a diagnostic radiologic procedure begins with clear, concise instructions. Through effective communication, the patient understands what is being done and can more fully cooperate with us. Immobilization is also necessary in some cases so the x-ray isn’t blurred, causing a repeat of the x-ray resulting in additional radiation exposure. All of our films are also “collimated”. This is a device on the x-ray tube that allows us to decrease the size of the x-ray beam to only the part we are x-raying, so that the patient does not get any additional exposure. We not only use lead aprons, but also gonad shielding to protect the reproductive organs from exposure. Gonad shielding is used as a secondary protective measure, but is not substituted for collimation. Collimation is always the first step in radiation protection.
Behind the scenes, what the patient cannot see, there is regular quality management to ensure that the patients are given a minimum dose of radiation. Two of the indicators are “exposure factor” and “repeat analysis.”
“Exposure factor” is the selection of the appropriate amount of radiation for each x-ray. This is essential to ensure minimal patient dose. The amount of radiation given must be enough to penetrate the area to be x-rayed.
“Repeat analysis” is a count of the x-rays that had to be retaken either due to mechanical or human error. This analysis shows us how many films were repeated and why. If it was human error, we use the information from this analysis for staff education and training for performance improvement. The staff and physicians at NCMC also wear monitoring devices when working in or around areas where radiation is being used. The personnel monitoring devices track the amount of radiation exposure for each individual. A report is given to the Radiation Safety Officer, who reviews the report to ensure no one has been over exposed. The reports are kept in the Medical Imaging department and each employees must sign off on their reading.
The most sensitive organs to radiation, in order of their sensitivity are:
- Lens of the eyes
- Spleen (RBC production)
The Medical Imaging department at NorthCrest Medical Center actively practices radiation safety by the use of lead aprons and gloves, repeat analysis, monitoring devices, communication, immobilization and collimation. We care about the safety of our staff and the safety of our patients.