To describe self-reported radiation safety practices by equine veterinary technicians in North America and identify factors associated with these practices.
154 equine technicians.
An electronic questionnaire regarding radiation safety practices during the use of portable x-ray equipment was sent to 884 members of the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians and Assistants. Data were summarized, and various factors were evaluated for associations with reported safety practices.
221 of 884 (25.0%) questionnaires were completed, including 154 by equine technicians who had been involved in equine radiography as x-ray tube operators, cassette holders, or both in the previous year. Lead apron use was suboptimal, reported as “always” for 80.0% (104/130) of tube operators and 83.1% (123/148) of cassette holders. Approximately 20% of participants never wore thyroid shields, and approximately 90% never wore lead eyeglasses. Almost 50% of participants did not have lead eyeglasses available. Although > 55% of participants always held the x-ray equipment by hand, 58.4% (73/125) of tube operators and 25.0% (35/140) of cassette holders never wore gloves. Cassette holders wore lead gloves and personal radiation dose–monitoring devices significantly more frequently than did tube operators.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
Compliance of North American equine technicians with radiation safety recommendations by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements was suboptimal. Improvements in radiation safety training and education, strengthening the connection between academic institutions and private practices, and greater availability and requirement of personal protective equipment use by senior clinicians and employers might aid in improving safety practices.
To describe the radiation safety behaviors of veterinary specialists performing small animal fluoroscopic procedures and examine potential risk factors for these behaviors, including knowledge of radiation risk and training regarding machine operating parameters.
197 veterinary specialists and residents in training.
An electronic questionnaire was distributed to members of the American Colleges of Veterinary Internal Medicine (subspecialties of cardiology and small animal internal medicine), Veterinary Radiology, and Veterinary Surgery.
The overall survey response rate was 6% (240/4,274 email recipients). Of the 240 respondents, 197 (82%) had operated an x-ray unit for a small animal fluoroscopic procedure in the preceding year and fully completed the questionnaire. More than 95% of respondents believed that radiation causes cancer, yet approximately 60% of respondents never wore hand or eye protection during fluoroscopic procedures, and 28% never adjusted the fluoroscopy machine operating parameters for the purpose of reducing their radiation dose. The most common reasons for not wearing eye shielding included no requirement to wear eyeglasses, poor fit, discomfort, and interference of eyeglasses with task performance. Respondents who had received training regarding machine operating parameters adjusted those parameters to reduce their radiation dose during procedures significantly more frequently than did respondents who had not received training.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
On the basis of the self-reported suboptimal radiation safety practices among veterinary fluoroscopy users, we recommend formal incorporation of radiation safety education into residency training programs. All fluoros-copy machine operators should be trained regarding the machine operating parameters that can be adjusted to reduce occupational radiation exposure.