Awareness of radiation dose associated with common diagnostic procedures in emergency departments: a pilot study

Mohamed Khaldoun Badawy, Dheeshana Sayakkarage, Mehmet Ozmen

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2 Citations (Scopus)


The large number of diagnostic procedures undertaken in emergency departments (ED) is vital to the early diagnosis and treatment of patients. The use of ionising radiation in diagnosis adds a lifetime attributable risk (LAR) of cancer depending on the region imaged, the frequency of imaging, and dose per exposure. Aims This pilot study aims to assess the degree of radiation awareness amongst ED doctors at major metropolitan and regional health services in Australia, in terms of the dose and risks associated with common imaging. Secondary aims were to provide a template to practically evaluate ED doctor radiation awareness, identify factors impacting upon radiation awareness (e.g., location, seniority of doctor), and to suggest practical means to improve radiation awareness. Methods Physicians in the EDs of two major health services (one regional and one metropolitan) in Australia were surveyed and asked to compare the radiation dose from each procedure to what the general population is exposed to naturally from background radiation. Additionally, the physicians were asked to estimate the LAR of cancer from each diagnostic procedure. These estimates were compared to literature-sourced values to assess the accuracy of physician responses. Results Results showed that there was significant variance with regard to knowledge of dose and risk, and that respondents tended to greatly overexaggerate the radiation levels and risk associated with diagnostic imaging. Despite failing to attribute correct values, in many cases, respondents ranked scans correctly. Responses comparing differences amongst the two health services and amongst different levels of medical hierarchy largely overlapped with no clear difference between these factors. Conclusion Physicians reported low confidence in their knowledge of radiation awareness and indicated the need for additional education, which would assist them in communicating the risks to patients. Furthermore, such education would assist physicians in tailoring their diagnostic imaging requests so as to minimise radiation levels in patients
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338 - 344
Number of pages7
JournalAustralasian Medical Journal
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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