DO SURGICAL RESIDENTS, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIANS, AND NURSES EXPERIENCE SIGNIFICANT RADIATION EXPOSURE DURING THE RESUSCITATION OF TRAUMA PATIENTS?

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Abstract

During this study we investigated the yearly risk of radiation exposure for surgical residents (group 1, n = 8), emergency department (ED) physicians (group 2, n = 6) and nurses (group 3, n = 97) participating in the resuscitation of trauma victims in the emergency department of a 500-bed teaching hospital. Dosimeter readings of the three study groups were recorded monthly over the 1-year study period. During the study interval, 758 patients underwent resuscitation following trauma; 2098 portable radiographs (758 chest films, 758 lateral cervical spine films, and 582 radiographs of the pelvis) were obtained during the resuscitation phase of these patients. The total radiation exposure for group 3 was significantly greater than that for groups 1 and 2 (340 ± 50 vs. 160 ± 112 and 20 ± 14 mrem, respectively, p < 0.01). Individual residents received a significantly greater amount of radiation than ED physicians and nurses (20 ± 28 vs. 3.3 ± 2.0 and 3.5 ± 2.0 mrem, respectively, p < 0.05). However, despite repeated exposure to radiation, individuals in the three groups did not exceed the safety limits of 0.05 Gy/year set by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements. Based on the results of this study, we conclude that trauma resuscitation teams can provide quality care to their patients without concern over the detrimental effects of radiation exposure, provided that the basic principles of radiation protection are followed.

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