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Radiation Protection: Measures to Minimize Potential Hazards

The provision of high-quality care is often associated with certain risks and the use of potentially hazardous measures. Patients and healthcare professionals have to evaluate a myriad of possible benefits and hazards when choosing the most appropriate treatment. Radiation exposure is one of the risks people have to consider when addressing different health issues. Excessive radiation exposure can result in such adverse health outcomes as skin injury, cancer induction, or genetic effect induction (Statkiewicz Sherer et al., 2017). At the same time, radiography, which is associated with ionizing radiation, is instrumental in identifying serious health issues and setting accurate diagnosis in a timely manner. Therefore, radiography is widely utilized in the clinical setting, but several protection strategies are employed to avoid and minimize potential negative effects. This paper contains a brief description of such protection methods that ensure the safety of both patients and healthcare practitioners.

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Time

The three cardinal protection measures include time, shielding, and distance. At this point, it is also necessary to note that the correct dosage is critical. However, it can hardly be regarded as a protection strategy since all procedures should be implemented correctly in order to ensure patients’ safety. A minimum dose ensuring the extraction of the necessary data should be ensured to avoid repeated exposure caused by errors (Statkiewicz Sherer et al., 2017). According to Bushon (2008), the minimization of the time of exposure is one of the effective instruments used to protect exposed people (patients and medical staff) from the negative impact of radiation during diverse clinical procedures.

People have regular check-ups and can undergo some tests (such as X-ray or screening) on a regular basis. The time of such check-ups is regulated strictly and should not be violated without serious grounds (Statkiewicz Sherer et al., 2017). One of the techniques radiologists frequently use is up-and-down motion and on-off sequencing on the fluoroscopic foot (Bushong, 2008). In order to minimize exposure time, healthcare professionals should have the necessary skills to make sure that the procedure is successful and high-quality results (pictures) are obtained. Likewise, clinicians’ safety is also ensured by their knowledge and skills.

Distance

Distance is another effective protective method commonly utilized in the healthcare setting. It is essential to maximize the distance between the source of radiation and the healthcare practitioner and patient (Bushong, 2008). Only a specific and limited part of the patient’s body should be exposed. The radiologist should keel a large distance as well in order to minimize occupational exposure. The clinician should understand the mechanisms behind radiation exposure that is “inversely proportional to the square of the distance” rather than distance (Kim, 2018, p. 145). Hence, the distance and the exact position can enhance the radiologist’s protection and reduce potentially harmful effects.

Shielding

Finally, shielding is a widely employed method to protect exposed people and minimize the adverse impact of radiation exposure. Modern appliances are equipped with various protective facilities to minimize people’s exposure. Patients can be covered with aprons or similar devices to ensure the protection of patients. As mentioned above, the part of the body exposed should be minimal and shielding has proved to be effective in achieving this goal (Bushong, 2008). Healthcare practitioners’ protection is enhanced with the help of aprons, caps, thyroid protectors, lead glasses, and protective gloves (Kim, 2018). However, it has been reported that clinicians do not use these measures extensively. For example, Korean physicians use aprons in 80% of cases, while the use of lead glasses is only 40% and the utilization of protective gloves is 35% (Kim, 2018). The compliance with radiation protection standards varies across the globe, but healthcare professionals in all countries tend to misuse some devices.

Training and Education

Although time, distance, and shielding are seen as the pillars of radiation exposure protection, it is possible to identify another important method. Training and education are the measures that can ensure following the standards related to timing, distancing, and shielding. As mentioned above, healthcare practitioners must have the necessary skills based on the most recent research and enhanced by the use of technological advances. Staff training is critical for the error-free implementation of procedures and the appropriate use of protective strategies and devices. Patients should also receive the necessary training and education to make evidence-based decisions (Statkiewicz Sherer et al., 2017). The information concerning the benefits of procedures should be provided, but it is also vital to discuss potential hazards and ways to minimize risks. Patients understanding the most relevant aspects of the procedure are more cooperative, and their mental and psychological health improves.

Conclusion

On balance, it is important to emphasize that time, distance, and shielding, as well as associated training, are the cardinal strategies to enhance radiation exposure protection. Both patients and clinicians can be exposed to radiation. However, numerous methods and strategies have been developed and found effective. At the same time, people’s compliance with the existing rules and standards needs specific attention. Clearly, further research regarding effective protective measures should be implemented to minimize potential hazards.

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References

Bushong, S. C. (2008). Radiologic science for technologists: Physics, biology, and protection (9th ed.). Mosby.

Kim, J. (2018). Three principles for radiation safety: Time, distance, and shielding. The Korean Journal of Pain, 31(3), 145-146. Web.

Statkiewicz Sherer, M. A., Visconti, P., Ritenour, E. R., & Welch Haynes, K. (2017). Radiation protection in medical radiography (11th ed.). Elsevier.

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