Radiology use has been in use for many years. However, the level of safety keeps improving with each passing year. Research on how our bodies react to radiation and other factors such as government regulations have improved how the machines work. Patients are now able to enjoy the services offered using the equipment without fearing the negative effects they might bring.
The equipment used in hospitals and labs for radiologic imaging is safer now than it was years ago,
Health concern- New regulations
The U.S Food and Drug Administration has strict guidelines about what products can or cannot be used in the United States. Products such as x radiation (x-ray) or any other product that emits some form of radiation has to get approval from the U.S Food and Drug Administration (U.S Food and Drug Administration). The agency has therefore been critical in ensuring all the radiology equipment that are imported or manufactured in the U.S meets a certain standard. The availability of this agency has, therefore, made the use of radiology equipment safer that several years back.
Controlled emission level of radiation
The U.S Food and Drug Administration has allowed hospitals and clinics to use products that can emit a certain amount of radiation. The move was meant to ensure patient safety is maintained and the equipment used is not harmful to citizens (Mitchell and Furey 5). Additionally, the operators of the machines are supposed to take any measures that would help reduce the exposure of radiation on the patients. Positioning image intensifier close to a patient and moving an x-ray tube far from the patients are some of the ways that have ensured the radiation dosage is reduced.
Patient concern- Testing products before they are approved
The patient concern is of the utmost importance when coming to the use of radiology machines. Since the radiations products have the ability to cause severe harm, the manufacturers are supposed to test their products at different stages of their manufacture (Department of Health). The U.S Food and Drug Administration also test the products before they are allowed in the market. A seal of approval is often given to products that pass the vigorous checks. Additionally, health facilities are required to constantly service their machines to ensure they are up to the task
Following Procedures and Guidelines
A physician is supposed to follow certain laid down guidelines and procedures to ensure patient safety. Every healthcare facility needs to have a manual that states the number of tests that should be carried out and their acceptable limit for each test (Department of Health). There should also be a list of all the equipment that should be used for each test and the sample forms to be used when conducting the tests. Other procedures include having a clear record of all the radiation machines and monitoring them frequently.
Understanding the amount of Radiation the Body can handle
Years of research have been able to point out the amount of radiation that our bodies can handle. Some radiations are good for the body, others may cause cancer while some level of radiation may lead to death. Roentgen equivalent man (Rem) is the unit of radiation that can be applied to humans (Hickey, et al. 4). At 1 Rem (0.01 Sv) the dosage is safe and might even be beneficial to the human body. However, at 10 Rem (0.1 Sv) the dosage is harmful and might even cause cancer. Anything above 100 Rem will cause radiation poisoning and death.
Safety- Using appropriate shielding
By using the appropriate shielding when carrying out radiology procedure, a physician reduces the chances of harming any organs (National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements). The most commonly used type of shielding is the gonadal shielding which is used to protect reproductive organs of a patient that is of childbearing age (Warlow, et al 6). The shield is typically used for both male and female and especially when the beam is going to be in a range of 5 cm from organs. However, many physicians still use the shield even when the radiation is more than 5 cm for precaution. Other protective shields include shadow shielding, Scoliosis shielding, and breast shielding.
Adequate Staff training
Health facilities have ensured they prioritize the safety of their patients by ensuring all the staff that handles radiology equipment are well trained on how to use the tools (Department of Health). The availability of well-trained personnel does not only ensure quality service but also ensures accidents are minimized and they understand the risk of mishandling the radiology tools.
Scanning only the necessary areas
Physicians have been trained to understand the damages that can be caused by unwanted exposure to radiation. Health facilities, therefore, take all the necessary measure to ensure patients are exposed to radiation in areas that need the exposure. Some of the measures taken include using shields that would protect vulnerable areas. The use of radiation has therefore been able to become safer due to the efforts of healthcare providers and the government
Department of Health, New York State. "Guide for Radiation Safety/Quality Assurance Programs." New York State Department of Health, 2014, www.health.ny.gov/environmental/radiological/radiation_safety_guides/qasmall.htm. Accessed 25 Feb. 2018.
Hickey, Richard J., et al. "Radiation Hormesis, Public Health, and Public Policy." Health Physics, vol. 44, no. 3, 2007, pp. 207-219.
Mitchell, Erica L., and Patricia Furey. "Prevention of radiation injury from medical imaging." Journal of Vascular Surgery, vol. 53, no. 1, 2011, pp. 22S-27S.
National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements. "Report No. 054 - Medical Radiation Exposure of Pregnant and Potentially Pregnant Women (1977)." National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements | Bethesda, MD, 2012, www.ncrppublications.org/Reports/054.
U S Food and Drug Administration. "U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page." 23 Feb. 2018, www.fda.gov/default.htm.Warlow, Thomas, et al. "Gonad shielding in paediatric pelvic radiography: Effectiveness and practice." Radiography, vol. 20, no. 3, 2014, pp. 178-182.
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