Veterinary team members are being reminded to reduce the risk posed to them by radiation exposure during imaging with information provided at www.lowerthedose.org. Radiation, of any magnitude, presents health risks, including the increased chance of genetic mutations and cancer, it states.
The website highlights three steps—based on the ALARA principle of keeping doses “as low as reasonably achievable”—to mitigate radiation exposure and help create a safer workspace. They are as follows:
- Minimize the time of exposure to directly reduce radiation dose.
- Double the distance between one’s body and the radiation source.
- Use absorber materials for beta particles, X-rays, and gamma rays.
The American College of Veterinary Radiology, National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, and Idexx created the website late in 2016 to encourage veterinary teams to take action in this area.
Educational resources posted on the site include a radiography positioning guide to help veterinary staff position pets for clear imaging, and an archived webinar on radiation safety. Plus, a free online course titled “Digital Radiography: Introduction, Radiation Safety and Positioning for the Small Animal” is available for three hours of veterinary continuing education approved by the Registry of Approved Continuing Education. Further, quick links to each state’s radiation guidelines have been posted.
Site visitors are encouraged to “take the pledge” to lower the dose of radiation used when capturing images. Part of the pledge encourages the following:
- Reviewing imaging protocols regularly, ensuring that only the minimum amount of radiation necessary is used to acquire diagnostic-quality images.
- Familiarizing oneself with the benefits of hands-free radiography.
- Taking radiographs of lead aprons no less than once a year to examine them for cracks.