Radiation exposure in the perioperative environment: Are we safe?
Like most things in today's world, health technology has undergone many changes over the past few decades. Medical and technological advances have changed many health practices. The subject of this study is perioperative personnels' knowledge and understanding of radiation in the perioperative environment. The concern of this study is whether perioperative personnel who are exposed to radiation during their daily work routines are adapting their work practices in line with this changing technology, specifically regarding radiation in the Operating Suite.
A focus group study was undertaken to determine the knowledge and understanding of radiation exposure and safety held by perioperative personnel during their daily work routines within the Operating Suite. The personnel studied came from diverse backgrounds with varying education levels and experiences. They consisted of preoperative nurses, theatre assistants, surgeons and anaesthetists. A total of 23 personnel from the population of 82 participated in four homogeneous focus groups.
The discussions were tape-recorded and copies of the transcripts and preliminary analysis were returned to participants for correction, comment and verification. Following the processes of data collection and ongoing data analysis five intra and inter related categories were identified. These were the dangers of radiation exposure; the lack of knowledge and education on radiation exposure and safety; the radiation environment; protective devices and apparel; and, the radiographer's role and responsibilities. The study identified self -determined deficits in the knowledge and understanding of radiation exposure and safe radiation practices by the participants.
The results demonstrate that, at this point in time, safe radiation practices by perioperative personnel are not optimised within this environment. The recommendations - education on radiation exposure and safety, the appropriate quantity and quality of protective apparel, attention given to signage and warning systems, the roles and responsibilities of radiographers identified and enacted upon; and, future research involving the monitoring of perioperative personnel to determine whether safe exposure levels were not exceeded - could indeed provide a safer perioperative environment.
It has also been recommended that policies and procedures and an education package covering the use of radiation within the perioperative environment are required