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Survey of self-reported radiation safety practices among North American veterinary technicians involved in equine radiography using portable x-ray equipment

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  • 1 From the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5B4, Canada.
  • | 2 From the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5B4, Canada.
  • | 3 Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5B4, Canada.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES

To describe self-reported radiation safety practices by equine veterinary technicians in North America and identify factors associated with these practices.

SAMPLE

154 equine technicians.

PROCEDURES

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.

RESULTS

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.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES

To describe self-reported radiation safety practices by equine veterinary technicians in North America and identify factors associated with these practices.

SAMPLE

154 equine technicians.

PROCEDURES

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.

RESULTS

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.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Belotta (alexandra.belotta.vet@gmail.com).