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Main Hazards in Clinical Radiology

Clinical radiology is a necessary and exciting field, but it entails constant exposure to radiation and other health hazards. Patients are brought in for x-rays, which can put the technician or provider in jeopardy after frequent exposure. Fortunately, there is a solution to protecting workers in the radiology department. At Med-Pro, our line of radiation detection products helps keep you safe in facilities with detectable amounts of radiation, including clinical facilities. Here’s our guide to the main hazards of which you should be aware.

Radiation Damage From Imaging Exams

X-rays use high energy electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength around 0.0323 nm to obtain an accurate image of the body system.

Workers in the radiology department often use x-rays to diagnose patients. Without the proper shield or barrier, doctors, nurses, and technicians may be in danger of excessive exposure and other hazardous side effects.

Radiation exposure can affect the genetic makeup of the body, and it can also be passed down to newborn children. With acute exposure, workers may experience dermatitis and erythema. Whole-body radiation can lead to diarrhea, weakness, nausea, vomiting, and even death.

With chronic exposure, workers can experience bone marrow suppression and skin cancer. Both of these issues can make the body vulnerable to infection.

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What Diseases does Radiation Cause?

Radiation can penetrate the body and alter the genetic material within the DNA. The abnormal mutation can replicate during cell division, potentially leading to cancer.

Thyroid Cancer

Constant exposure to radiation can lead to irregular masses on the thyroid gland. These nodules can result in symptoms of neck/throat pain, hoarseness, coughing, and difficulty swallowing. They can also affect levels of thyroid hormones, calcitonins, and calcium levels.

Leukemia

a little girl with cancer smiling

Leukemia is the cancer of the blood, which originates from the bone marrow. There are many types of leukemia, including

  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • And acute lymphoblastic leukemia. 

Usually, slow-growing leukemia is asymptomatic. On the other hand, fast-growing ones produce symptoms like weight loss, frequent infections, fatigue, and easy bleeding.

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Lymphoma

The lymphatic system is the body‘s defense mechanism. It contains the spleen, thymus, bone marrow, and lymph nodes. Lymphomas are a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system. 

Lymphoma compromises the way the body fights off infection and protects itself. There are two main types of lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and Hodgkin lymphoma.

Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is the cancer of the plasma cell. The plasma cell functions to create antibodies to fight off infection. Unfortunately, multiple myeloma mutates the plasma to create a high number of non-functioning antibodies. 

These antibodies can damage the kidney, red blood cells, bones, and immune system. Patients with this disease often have symptoms of high calcium levels, renal issues, anemia, bone pain, fever, and infection.

Tumors of the Brain and Nervous system

a plastic brain in low light

Radiation can mutate the cells in the brain leading to the formation of a tumor. It can also cause cancerous formation in other organs in the body that can metastasize to the brain.

When this happens, it can be difficult to treat. In severe cases, a doctor may recommend chemo and surgery.

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Solutions for Radiation Exposure for Radiologist

It is essential to have radiation protection for both patients and employees. The best form of protection is to provide dosimeters (radiation badges) to employees so that they can keep track of their radiation dosages.

Types of Radiation Badges

There are three types of radiation badges to consider:

  1. XBGN Badge: This should be worn whenever the worker is using x-ray equipment, or in contact with other radioactive material. It works for whole body and extremity monitoring.
  2. The Bracelet: This is for people working in facilities where radiation is concentrated near the hands and fingers, like mail facilities and some medical facilities.
  3. The Ring: The ring badge is used to measure beta and gamma dosage and should be worn on the hand closest to sources of radiation.

Related: How a radiation badge is superior to panasonic

Radiology Tools and the Environment

Hospital front desk

There are also other solutions to protect workers from radiation. For example, the x-ray room contains barrier walls made with lead and glass windows to ensure that the technician can step behind the wall to take an x-ray. This helps employees avoid constant exposure to radiation during imaging examinations.

If the procedure has to be done close to the patient, then a lead-plated glass is an optimal solution to protect the employees. 

Lead strips protect employees working under fluoroscopy procedures. Lead aprons and gloves could protect both patients and employees if they were to have direct access to the x-ray. 

Maintenance

The radiology department should hire an expert to assume the responsibility of maintaining a portable x-ray machine. There should also be separate storage for radioactive sources. This area should be adequately shielded to prevent the spread of radiation. 

Keep Records

An expert should obtain all documents and inventories of radioactive material, and only allow authorized personnel to have access to storage areas with a risk of exposure. 

Every employee should have appropriate monitoring equipment like a pocket chamber, film ring, radiation badge, and dosimeter. 

Employers should maintain records of radiation exposure for all employees by monitoring their film badge. This is to ensure that a certain amount of exposure does not go above the threshold. If it does, then the employee would have to switch to another department and the facility managers will need to take steps to prevent future excess exposure.

Why Is It Important to Have a Radiation Badge?

A radiation badge or dosimeter is often worn on the chest or a collar. The primary purpose is to keep track of how much radiation workers are exposed to.

If it goes above a specific limit, then the badge will alert both the employee and the individual responsible for analyzing the data. It will also inform the employer if a particular worker is above the threshold. 

The badge plays a significant role in preventing employees from absorbing a significant amount of radiation that can result in mutation, DNA damage, free radicals, or any unfavorable symptoms. 

Because of the badge, employees can work safely in their environment.

Other Hazards in Clinical Radiology

Aside from radiation, other hazards can occur in the clinical radiology department.

TB

TB stands for Tuberculosis, which is a bacterial infection of the lungs. When a patient obtains a positive result from the test, they would have to go to the radiology department to get a chest x-ray. 

Unfortunately, the exposure from the x-ray can make the patient and employees vulnerable if they are not adequately protected. 

Tuberculosis is also highly contagious, and a patient can transmit it to the provider or technician in the radiology department. Because of this, it’s vital to initiate the proper procedure to protect the employees from TB infection. 

The best solution would be to provide a surgical mask for both patients and workers. The patient should be isolated somewhere where they are unlikely to infect other people.

Related: How a radiation badge is superior to panasonic

Muscular strain and sprain

A woman gets a massage

There are work-related injuries such as back and shoulder sprains and strains. This is caused by constant lifting and reaching for the patient’s imaging exam. 

The best solution for this is to train employees on proper lifting techniques. These include:

  • Avoiding awkward positions like twisting while lifting
  • Lifting items close to the body
  • And avoiding reaching/lifting above shoulder height. 

Workers should consider using mechanicals to reduce manual lifting. Employers should ensure that there is enough staff to work together to lift heavy, dangerous equipment.

Accidents

When carrying a portable x-ray machine, employees can slip and spill fluid on the floor. The worst part is that if fluids such as vomit, blood, or any excretion spill on the x-ray power cord, it can lead to a significant health problem.

The best solution is to keep the floor clean and dry. It’s also vital to make sure that there are no obstacles or obstruction on the aisle to prevent hazards. That means keeping floor plugs, equipment, and power cords away from the pathway. 

If there’s a spill, it’s imperative to report it and clean it up immediately. Employees should consider wearing anti-slip footgear to reduce the hazard.

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Final Note

The Radiology Department is a lifesaver because of its high tech imaging tests to help diagnose patients. Unfortunately, imaging tests can release a high amount of radiation that can be dangerous to both healthcare providers and patients.

Luckily, solutions like radiation badges and lead barriers can play a significant role in preventing workers from exposure.

However, other hazardous issues are involved in the radiology department, such as TB infection, aches and strains, and accidents. With all these issues, employers need to implement solutions to reduce hazards in the clinical radiology department.

Looking for radiation protection for you and your company? Check out MedPro Today! 

Why Is It Important to Have a Radiation Badge?

A radiation badge or dosimeter is often worn on the chest or a collar. The primary purpose is to keep track of how much radiation workers are exposed to. 

If it goes above a specific limit, then the badge will alert both the employee and the individual responsible for analyzing the data. It will also inform the employer if a particular worker is above the threshold. 

The badge plays a significant role in preventing employees from absorbing a significant amount of radiation that can result in mutation, DNA damage, free radicals, or any unfavorable symptoms. 

Because of the badge, employees can work safely in their environment.


What Diseases does Radiation Cause?

Radiation can penetrate the body and alter the genetic material within the DNA. The abnormal mutation can replicate during cell division, potentially leading to cancer.

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