Are Radiation Detection Badges Important?

Are Radiation Detection Badges Important? Wearing radiation detection badges can protect you, your employees and your practice from potential lawsuits. Recently I (Paul) was at a vet conference when I met a vet tech. As we talked she mentioned that she is the one that typically does the x-ray’s in her office. She mentioned that she had worked in the office for over 20 years and seldom wears anything to shield her from the radiation. When asked about dosimeter or radiation badges to measure the scatter ionizing radiation, she laughed. Often, I think about the conversation, the potential impact the cumulative radiation will have on her body and how wearing a radiation detection badge is critical to her safety. 

Why are dosimeter or radiation detection badges important to wear for medical workers? The field of radiology has inarguably revolutionized the diagnostic measures in medicine. From the accidental discovery of X-rays by Wilhelm in 1895 to the present day, radiology has excelled a great deal. Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Radiology has now created new arenas for diagnostic medicine. While these advancements have improved efficiency and increased diagnostic capacity, we still may be making compromises with the health of individuals such as radiologists, lab operators, and other staff exposed to ionizing radiation.

Several pieces of equipment such as X-ray and CT scan machines serve as sources of external radiation in clinical settings. However, the amount of external radiation exposure depends on the distance from the source, the energy levels of radiation emitted, the radiation count present, and the duration of exposure. To limit radiation exposure, radiation workers can benefit from time, distance, and shielding factors.

Basic Interventions for Reducing Radiation Exposure 

  1. Time-Duration Of the Procedure

Duration of the procedure is crucial, reducing time will decrease the exposure of the patient and the radiation workers. Radiation exposure is proportional to the time the individual is exposed, so the greater the time spent near the source, the greater will be the dose of radiation received. Limiting the time is critical to monitor. The most basic way to reduce the duration of exposure without compromising the quality is by taking the history of the patient and briefing the procedure to the patient before entering the lab. All questions and concerns should be asked before or should be kept for after the procedure to minimize exposure. 

       2. Distance

The closer to the radiation source, the higher the exposure to the radiation will be to those around it. The exposure rate from the source of radiation drops by the inverse of the distance squared. The rule is to position the patient and the operator away from the source of radiation. The farther an individual is from the source of the radiation the better it is. 

      3. Protection

Shielding has proven to be a successful way of controlling radiation exposure. Shielding can be anything from PPE to a room with protective lining, or even an object or a material that causes hindrance or neutralizes radiation, for example, a lead apron, gloves, thyroid shield, and eye goggles. There are several materials used for this shielding equipment, Plexiglas for Beta particles, and lead for X-rays and Gamma rays are some examples. These days, non-lead options are also being manufactured due to their non-hazardous disposal and recyclable nature, for example, lead-free aprons are a widely used way of shielding. These are made from a blend of heavy metals other than lead, making them non-toxic and lighter, hence also easier to carry.

Additionally, there should be specific protective protocols in place for individuals that are at a higher risk of the adverse effects of radiation exposure such as pregnant females. A developing fetus should not be exposed to radiation of more than 1 mSv. It poses a threat to the developing fetus’s well-being if radiation exceeds 5mSv. 

Children are also high-risk individuals who should only be exposed to low-dose radiation when no other option is available.

Radiation Exposure Protocols Ensured by The Hospital

Radiation exposure protocols should be strictly observed by the service-providing facility. Several factors should be considered when it comes to ensuring safety protocols are being followed.

  • Appropriate Infrastructure: The facility should have a radiation-containing infrastructure. There should be solid concrete walls in the rooms with radiation exposure. Many operatories have been built with lead walls which contains the atoms from scattering. Emphasis on a strict assessment and routine maintenance of the equipment and the infrastructure should be implemented.
  • Trained Team: All personnel involved in radiology (the radiologist, nurse, lab technician, etc.) should be trained and educated. They should be aware of all the adverse effects in case of negligence. All preventive measures should be explained, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), lead suits, and radiation detection badges should be worn at all times. Direct exposure to the radiation must be avoided. Compliance the radiation safety protocols should be strictly enforced. Check with your RSO on any guidelines including why the use of wearing a radiation detection badge is important.

Key Takeaways:

Radiology has transformed the field of medicine, but with every change comes a new set of challenges. The challenges regarding radiation exposure can be mitigated by following ALARA guidelines and connecting with the radiation safety officer (RSO). The use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and following all safety guidelines should be reviewed. 

Beta, gamma, and X-ray exposure can be significantly reduced by:

  • Keeping the duration of exposure as minimum as possible.
  • Maintaining as much distance from the source as practically feasible.
  • Putting a shield between the source and the radiation workers when possible.
  • Using PPE to limit the dose of the radiation.
  • Monitoring your radiation doses by wearing a radiation detection or dosimeter badge.

Orders your x-ray badges today!

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