Dosimeter Options For Locums

Oct 5, 2018

Dosimeter Options for Locums

Radiology is an essential diagnostic tool in veterinary medicine and, while the risks of radiation exposure to those operating x-ray equipment are generally low, levels can accumulate over time, potentially leading to irreversible health damage.

“The side effects of x-rays, of radiation accumulating in the body… it can be too late by the time it’s caught,” says Ivana Novosel, Founder and CEO of IMLocum, emphasizing there is a greater risk for veterinary professionals due to the frequent need to manually restrain pet patients.

In collaboration with Health Canada, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) promotes radiation safety and regulates activities that take place in nuclear facilities across the nation, including x-ray sources in the health care sector. Through the Canadian Radiation Protection Regulations, the CNSC has set limits for the amount of radiation employees can be exposed to, with specific doses determined by each province. As such, employees who are routinely exposed to radiation are required to wear dosimeters, which monitor the person’s exposure to radiation and can indicate when the recommended limits have been exceeded, reveal gaps in safety precautions, and signal potential problems with diagnostic equipment.

While clinics routinely provide dosimeters for regular staff members, “locums are usually left to their own devices,” states Novosel, who is also a registered veterinary technologist (RVT). “We’re trying to change that.”

Novosel reached out to fellow RVT Julie Bitan of Hands-Free X-Rays, an Ontario-based company that provides in-clinic and online training of non-manual radiography techniques, and practical hands-free restraint and positioning devices.

Bitan, a board member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT), started Hands-Free X-Ray “with the goal of reducing occupational exposure of veterinary workers,” a safety initiative shared by IMLocum.

After contacting the Radiation Protection Service of Ontario, Bitan kindly presented two options for locums who participate in hand-holding patients for x-rays:

Option 1 – The clinic is to provide a “guest” dosimeter for the locum to be used while working. When submitting the dosimeter at the end of the report period, the clinic can choose to either [submit’ the worker’s information for that period for that dosimeter (no one else can wear that dosimeter in that period) OR keep as a guest and wait for the report to come in for that period. [Then], if the guest dosimeter is showing any exposure levels, [the clinic is to] contact the locum to let them know, and call the NDS to provide them with the information.

Option 2 – You can register [directly] with the National Dosimetry Services (NDS) and get your own dosimeter that will be sent to your home address. All billing and monitoring will be between the NDS and the locum employee.

Bitan noted that the cost for direct service is approximately $180 per year.

“At the end of the day, the [preferred] strategy would be to be as hands-free as possible,” offers Novosel, stressing the importance of still wearing a dosimeter.

“That and ensuring that the correct doses of radiation incurred are measured is very important for locums, who often don’t know the quality and state of the equipment they’re working with,” she adds. ”You don’t know if the gown or gloves you’re wearing are safe. If you have a dosimeter that is specifically for you, then you will know.”

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