What is my role in radiation safety?

As a healthcare professional who works in medical imaging, you most likely work with equipment that produces ionizing radiation. You and your team are responsible for following as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA) principles and balancing the right dose for the right patient to provide optimal care. As a result, radiation protection is a vitally important part of your job.

While the benefits of medical imaging far outweigh the risks, medical radiation can be dangerous when administered improperly. Everyone working in the radiology department is responsible for following radiation safety policies and procedures. Not only do these procedures protect patients, they also protect healthcare professionals who work with medical imaging and radiation therapy equipment.  

So where can you go for more information or to get additional radiation-safety training? The American Society of Radiologic Technologists offers a number of resources to help you learn how to protect your patients and yourself.

For example, we recently launched a video that provides healthcare professionals with a solid overview of radiation safety measures. The video covers topics like occupational dose limits, devices used to measure exposure, and safety best practices in radiography, fluoroscopy, diagnostic imaging, CT, nuclear medicine and more.

Another great resource for radiologic technologists and radiation therapists is ASRT’s Practice Standards for Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy. Developed by the ASRT, the practice standards provide guidelines for the profession for the permissible practices in clinical settings, including radiation safety measures.

We’ve also spearheaded several initiatives designed to educate healthcare professionals and the public about radiation dose and the radiologic technology profession.  

One key area we’ve focused on is establishing best practices for medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals. The ASRT Foundation’s Health Care Industry Advisory Council, a workgroup made up of representatives from radiologic science organizations and equipment manufacturers, recently produced two white papers highlighting workplace guidelines that provide steps to ensure patients receive the highest level of care possible. You can access the white papers on the Foundation’s website.   

In addition, the workgroup is publishing a document this summer that outlines specific steps vendors, technologists and facilities can take to make applications training more beneficial. The goal is to create an optimal environment for training, which leads to better delivery of healthcare.  

In addition to the initiatives I’ve already covered, there are a myriad of other resources available to educate personnel about the importance of managing medical radiation dose. For instance, we strongly back Image Gently and Image Wisely, two campaigns that stress the importance of optimizing radiation dose, and we sponsor www.xrayrisk.com, a website dedicated to educating the public and healthcare community about radiation risks from medical imaging.    

As you can see, the medical community is committed to providing safe, quality care. Advancing technology gives us amazing tools, and it’s up to us to use them correctly. When we all do our part to protect our patients and ourselves, everybody wins. 

About the author: Liana Watson, DM, RT(R)(M)(S)(BS), RDMS, RVT is Chief Governance and Development Officer, American Society of Radiologic Technologists.