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Original Article

SJEMed. 2023; 4(2): 312-328

Exposure of health professionals in the emergency department from portable radiography machines: a prospective cohort study

Abdulrahman Y. Sabbagh, Fahad A. Alamri, Alaa Y. Sabbagh, Anas A. Khan, Fouad N. Abogazalah, Saleh Aloraibi, Anas S. Banah, Mohammad Alqahtani, Sultan O. Aljuaid, Khalid Alyousef, Majid Alsalamah.


Background: Portable radiography machines are excellent diagnostic tools, but prolonged exposure to X-rays can damage tissue. The most severe concerns include increased cancer risk, cataract development, and fetal harm in pregnant workers. This study investigates whether healthcare personnel in the emergency department (ED) are exposed to X-ray ionizing radiation in excess of the National council on radiation protection and measurements limit.
Methods: A 5-month prospective cohort study was conducted. The sample population included healthcare professionals in the ED at King Abdulaziz Medical City, Saudi Arabia. All physicians and nurses were requested to wear thermoluminescent dosimeter (TLD) monitors while working in the ED. TLD monitors worn by consultants, residents, and nurses were assessed at the end of the study.
Results: Sixty-one participants met the inclusion criteria, and two TLDs served as controls to quantify natural background radiation levels. One of the 61 participants measured 0.1 mSv, and the rest measured lower, indicating that the average radiation dose to health professionals in the ED, such as consultants, residents, and charge nurses, is below 0.1 mSv. A total of 9,327 X-ray examinations were conducted by the participants, most commonly of the chest, followed by the pelvis.
Conclusion: Radiation exposure is not a major occupational concern, even during peak ED hours. The degree of radiation exposure measured in this study was far below the minimum permissible exposure level for ED staff. Therefore, additional protective equipment or individual surveillance with dosimeters appears unnecessary.

Key words: Occupational health, health professionals, portable radiography, radiation exposure, environment and public health, accident and emergency department.

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