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Do X-rays Compromise My Staff's Health?

X-rays continue to exude stigmas that precipitate fear and caution amongst medical staff and patients. The ever-present argument of risk versus benefit continues to haunt radiology departments.


Medical imaging managers continue to grapple with the idea that x-rays are a necessary evil within the diagnostic process. But one should beg the validation of such an idea. I mean, if these rays are so dangerous, why aren't regulatory agencies heavily involved in monitoring exposure levels?


In some sense, they are, however, most radiology managers and clinic supervisors will tell you that there are no superiors of the state breathing down their neck. The FDA or OSHA aren't berating them with letters. Physicists aren't required as on site residents.


What is occurring is that state and federal agencies require x-ray vendors and imaging facilities to comply with standards that are required up front. X-ray equipment is certified and registered. They comply with strict output requirements and, at the very least, each state knows where all of these x-ray units are located.


In a perfect world, everyone complies with the mandated rules, staff adheres to the recommendations of user manuals, and proper procedures are stringently followed. But... we don't live in a perfect world now, do we?


That being said and all things considered, it is important to understand that patients and employees are now allowed radiation exposure levels that are grossly lower than what was acceptable just 60 years ago. Most specialists are unaware that we've understood radiation exposure since the very beginning when these rays were discovered. Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen so thoroughly investigated these rays that he discovered all 10 characteristics of the photons within a few weeks of the first incident.

Now properties have been added or subtracted since that time.... in 1895.


We know how far you need to be to avoid exposure. We know the probability of getting exposed in within an enclosed space. We know how much saturation of radiation occurs based on specific criteria. We understand how radiation biology works and at what levels compromise cells.


So, specialties such as radiation physicists set up benchmarks, criteria, regulations, and laws to assure practitioners that dangerous levels of radiation are never reached within the confines of clinic and hospital compliance. And even when a patient requires significant radiation procedures, their exposure levels are documented and strategically separated to allow the body to heal from possible complications.


X-ray end-users should be confident that measures are taken with manufacturers, state and federal agencies, x-ray specialists, radiology organizations, vendors and practitioners to minimize potential dangers within the industry.


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