The use of radiation in multiple fields of medicine and healthcare can be a powerful component of a treatment plan, providing insight and procedure options that would otherwise be unavailable. Fluoroscopy, oncology and dentistry all rely on radiation to perform key functions that benefit their practices and aid in the treatment plans of their patients.
Though it plays a critical role in a handful of advanced procedures, radiation is still a hazardous emission of energy; improper or unprotected use of medical radiation technology can cause adversely harmful health effects to patients and healthcare professionals. Ensure the continued use of protective technology and clothing for patients during radiation-based treatments as well as for the technicians and healthcare professionals who administer the procedures with proper radiation shielding protection.
Here are 3 factors to consider when selecting radiation shielding protection for your medical staff and patients.
Durable Means Cost-Effective In the Long Run
Radiation shielding garments take a serious beating in the line of duty; general use, improper storage and handling techniques and lax upkeep can all lead to increased risk of aprons and other radioactive shielding garments being damaged and potentially harmful when used.
Studies indicate that 63% of lead radiation shielding aprons have trace amounts of lead present on their surfaces1, exposing occupational technicians and staff to deadly lead particles that can cause adversely negative health effects. The dust found on the external surfaces of shielding garments was largely due to cracks and protrusions present in the protective barrier that houses the lead plates, a defect attributed primarily to improper handling and storage.
Not only do damaged radiation shielding garments pose a serious health risk to wearers, handlers and surrounding medical staff, but they’re also detrimental to a healthcare organization’s budget. Finding durable, easy to store radiation shielding aprons and garments can cut down on the negative health and financial effects associated with replacing damaged garments or purchasing new ones.
Make Educated Buying Decisions
Another important factor to consider when selecting your radiation shielding garments is the materials used in production. Some questions to ask yourself when examining a product for purchase:
- Does the exterior of the garment feel cheap or thin?
- Are there visible tears or punctures in the garment?
- Do the shielding elements inherent in the garment offer the protection my staff needs?
Exterior material quality is crucial to selecting long lasting protective radiation shielding garments. Most garments and aprons incorporate a thin layer of rubber or rubber amalgam material to house the lead plates that offer protection from particle radiation. If exterior materials deviate too far from this standard, you may want to consider other options.
Likewise, it’s tantamount to examine the condition of the protective garment or apron before agreeing to a contract or purchase. Existing punctures or cracks that exist in the exterior indicate subpar materials being used during manufacturing and provide a prophetic look into what you can expect when using the garment in the field. If new garments are already falling apart, chances are the low quality will contribute to subsequent degradation of their effectiveness.
Finally, does the amount of protection offered by the shielding elements inside the garment offer protection against the correct type and levels of radiation that your patients and medical staff will be exposed to? If uneducated purchasing decisions are made, garments that drastically under protect can result in serious health risks.
Heavy Garments Are a Drag
Your medical staff will be brandishing their radiation shielding garments constantly in the course of their day; from radiation intensive treatments to the handling of hazardous materials and equipment that all require the use of protective articles of clothing. With most treatments and equipment requiring medical staff to be on their feet for a majority of the day, burdensome or inflexible protective garments can be a major drain on their energy, function and productivity.
With most lead aprons weighing an average of 7 pounds2, what seems like a minor addition of weight can add up as time goes on. Utilizing heavy or awkward garments and aprons can have long-term detrimental effects, with increased strain on the body resulting in poor posture, fatigue and general discomfort. All of these factors result in decreased focus and productivity from your staff.
Lead-Free Is the Trend of the Future
Luckily, lead-free aprons and radiation shielding garments are increasing in popularity, providing added medical practices with greater shielding durability, quality and staff productivity. Lead is prone to breakage and cracking, resulting in decreased durability and protection; non-lead aprons use flexible and malleable elements to stop breakage of shielding, meaning increased protection for your staff and gains to your wallet over time.
They also offer decreased weight and increased maneuverability, resulting in mobile, happy medical staff. When it comes to radiation shielding garments and aprons, lead-free is the most staff- and budget-friendly option available in the industry.
- Lead Aprons Are A Lead Exposure Hazard, The National Center for Biotechnology
- Apron Weight Comparison, Evolve Technologies Corporation