Attention all healthcare workers! Are you aware of the danger surrounding you as you perform your vital work? It’s a danger you cannot see, touch, or smell.
You may feel safe as you walk the halls of the facilities you serve. After all, as a healthcare worker you’ve received hours of training on how to protect yourself from bloodborne pathogens, fire, electrical hazards, and much more. You’ve been shown how to use equipment safely and when and where to use personal protection equipment. You’ve also been trained on how to keep those around you safe, especially the patient.
However, there is one area of risk for vendor representatives and other occupational visitors that has inadvertently been missed by many facilities—radiation. Every day you work in environments that expose you to occupational radiation. Though imaging allows for less invasive surgeries which are essential to speedier recoveries for patients, it can prove to be a health and safety hazard to occupational visitors.
Though most hospitals have safety programs in place for their personnel, occupational visitors are often missed because they serve multiple facilities. Though it varies by company and product, territories for vendor representatives can be very large. One medical device rep reported servicing 50-70 hospitals and hundreds of small surgery centers.1 How do we protect them and other types of visitors? Can all roles be included in imaging safety protocols?
Over the coming weeks, we will be discussing four areas of importance:
- Radiation Safety Training covering the occupational radiation environment and MRI Safety for non-MRI personnel
- Personal Protective Equipment designed to shield the occupational worker from ionizing radiation and provide attenuation
- Sensors, known as dosimeters, to monitor, record, and report the occupational dose across multiple facilities
- ALARA, as low as reasonably achievable, and what this means to the occupational visitor
We all play a role in creating an environment of consistency, monitoring the cumulative dose, and continuing to educate. Together, we harness the positive side of radiation and lessen the bad.