The nature of the work for Radiology nurses includes exposure to many types of medical radiation.
Those include X-rays, CT scans, PET scans, bone scans, and fluoroscopy.
Several regulatory agencies implement policies and procedures to improve the medical staff and provide minimal exposure.
For example, the National Council of Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRPM) provides guidelines for healthcare institutions.
The guidelines are based on the latest research and analysis and intended to help institutions to improve safety on the work.
One of the NCRPM recommendations for the radiology nurses is wearing a dosimetric badge at waist or chest and under the apron.
Using the thermoluminescent dosimeter badge you can check the level of radiation a nurse was exposed to during the shift.
In the U.S. the occupational dose limit is 5.000 millirem per year (mrem)
The radiation safety policies at institutions implement As Low as Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) policy, to help decrease unnecessary risk.
Some institutions such as Kaiser Permanente have a lower maximum annual exposure rate, and it is 1.000 mrem.
Nurses who don’t work in the exposed areas have an average annual exposure rate of 100 mrem.
Because facilities implement the ALARA policy, all departments need to monitor the dosimetry badge results.
Then, the department needs to report the data to a Radiation Safety Committee that is in charge of the radiation safety of the facility and all workers.
Also, nurses who work in highly exposed areas need to complete a radiation safety course every year.
The exposed areas include Cath Lab, Interventional Radiology, Operating Room, Nuclear Medicine, and Radiology.
The obligatory training for radiology nurses includes procedures for entering the room with active radiation, proper use of lead apron, the importance and purpose of shielding, information, and wearing the dosimetry badge.
All radiation exposure types are topics during annual training.
It includes proper handling of therapeutic nuclear radioiodine material, brachytherapy, and radioactive phosphorus therapy.
The risk of exposure is one of the integral risks of the job of a clinical nurse.
All accredited facilities and institutions
Nurses working in a clinical environment where they are exposed to radiation is an inherent risk of the job. Accredited facilities and organizations constantly work to keep the exposure rate as low as possible.
Therefore, nurses need to be careful and to follow the safety standard in the institution they work in and be alert all the time.
Radiation nurses must talk about radiation risk exposure with other medical staff and continuously raise consciousness about risks and safety standards to follow.
For example, physicians may activate a radiation device when the nurse is still in the room and her presence isn’t necessary.
Following the standards, continuous education and collaboration with groups such as Radiation SAfety Committee are ways to stays safe when working in high-risk exposure areas.