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-rays in her office. She said she had worked in the office for over 20 years and seldom wore anything to shield her from the radiation. She laughed when asked about dosimeters or radiation badges to measure the scatter ionizing radiation. I’m not sure what happened to the vet tech or her long-term medical issues, but I know radiation detection is essential for anyone working around ionizing radiation sources.
Why are dosimeters or radiation detection badges essential to wear for medical workers? The field of radiology has inarguably revolutionized diagnostic measures in medicine. From Wilhelm’s accidental discovery of X-rays in 1895 to the present day, radiology has excelled dramatically. Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Radiology has created new diagnostic medicine arenas. While these advancements have improved efficiency and increased diagnostic capacity, we may still compromise the health of radiologists, lab operators, and other staff exposed to ionizing radiation.
Several types of equipment, such as X-ray and CT scan machines, serve as external radiation sources in clinical settings. However, the amount of external radiation exposure depends on the distance from the source, the energy levels emitted, the present radiation count, and the exposure duration. Radiation workers can benefit from time, distance, and shielding factors to limit radiation exposure.
Essential Interventions for Reducing Radiation Exposure
- Time-Duration Of the Procedure
The 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 more significant the time spent near the source, the greater the radiation dose 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 patient’s history and briefing the procedure 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.
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 radiation source. The farther an individual is from the radiation source, the better it is.
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. Several materials are used for this shielding equipment, Plexiglas for Beta particles and lead for X-rays and Gamma rays. 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 shielding. These are made from a blend of heavy metals other than lead, making them non-toxic, lighter, and easier to carry.
Additionally, specific protective protocols should be in place for individuals 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 threatens 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
The service-providing facility should strictly observe radiation exposure protocols. Several factors should be considered when 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 that contain the atoms from scattering. A strict assessment and routine maintenance of the equipment and infrastructure maintenance should be emphasized.
- 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 radiation exposure must be avoided. Compliance with the radiation safety protocols should be strictly enforced. Check with your RSO on any guidelines, including why wearing a radiation detection badge is important.
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). Using 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.
As always, check with your RSO on best radiation detection practices.