Some healthcare workers are exposed to radiation regularly as they go about their jobs. This exposure puts them at risk of health problems. Here are four ways healthcare workers can minimize radiation exposure in their day-to-day work.
Use Protective Shielding
Protective shielding is critical for minimizing harmful radiation exposure. Lead is commonly used as a shielding material due to its high density which enables it to effectively block radiation. A minimum of 1/32 inch thickness of lead is usually adequate for shielding low levels of radiation. However, thicker lead shielding may be required for higher radiation levels or where complete blockage is essential.
In addition to lead, other dense materials like concrete and steel can provide effective radiation shielding. Using multiple layers of various shielding materials is often preferable as this provides protection across a broader spectrum of radiation energies and types. Proper shielding around the radiation source itself is crucial, but mobile shields and protective equipment for personnel should also be utilized.
This equipment has come a long way in recent years, so a person might choose protective skirts and vests rather than the conventional apron. Regular testing of shielding integrity and radiation levels is necessary to ensure exposures are kept as low as reasonably achievable. With diligent use of proper protective shielding, radiation exposures can be minimized to safe levels.
Follow Safety Protocols
Workers should limit the time they spend around radioactive sources to reduce exposure. Maintaining distance from radiation sources is also key, as radiation intensity decreases rapidly with distance. The use of appropriate shielding like lead aprons and acrylic glass helps block harmful radiation, and proper personal protective equipment like gloves and goggles should be worn.
Areas with radiation risk should be clearly marked and access restricted only to necessary personnel. Regular inspection and maintenance of radioactive devices helps prevent accidental leaks, while thorough monitoring of exposure levels ensures they remain below recommended limits. Strict contamination control procedures, including frequent decontamination of equipment and facilities, also reduce overall radiation levels. Following these basic protocols is essential to promoting radiation safety in any environment.
Take Continuing Education Courses
Continuing education is critical for radiology professionals to stay up-to-date on best practices for minimizing radiation exposure. Annual training on the latest technologies and techniques is recommended. For example, courses on proper collimation and shielding can help technologists reduce scatter radiation.
Learning optimized protocols that use lower doses while maintaining image quality is also important. Studies show significant dose reductions are possible with education and training. Some states require a certain number of CE credits specifically focused on radiation safety and dose reduction.
Attending conferences and seminars with presentations on new dose-monitoring tools and exposure-tracking software can provide added knowledge. Reading journal articles on the latest dose reduction methods keeps skills sharp. With regular continuing education, radiology professionals can remain cognizant of radiation risks and committed to the principle of keeping doses “As Low As Reasonably Achievable” (ALARA) for patients and staff.
Advocate for Safer Technology
Newer imaging technologies are engineered to minimize radiation exposure. Advances like digital X-ray, low-dose CT scanning, and image noise reduction software can capture necessary patient information while emitting less radiation. Healthcare workers should advocate for the purchase of equipment upgrades when feasible for their workplace. They need to also stay informed on emerging technologies and provide input on future safety equipment purchases.
With increased reliance on imaging in modern healthcare comes an obligation to protect healthcare workers from unnecessary radiation exposure. Following safety protocols, utilizing protective gear, pursuing continuing education, and advocating for improved technologies can help minimize occupational radiation exposure. A culture of safety requires contributions from both administration and frontline workers to make radiation protection a priority. With a joint effort, the risks of radiation in healthcare can be reduced.