409 Occupational radiation exposure to pregnant healthcare workers

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Abstract

Introduction

Radiation exposure to healthcare workers is a known occupational hazard. With a significant number of female healthcare employees of childbearing age in the workforce, it is essential to ensure that occupational exposure is at the lowest possible limits. The fetus is sensitive to high doses of ionising radiation. The probability that a particular effect will occur depends on several factors, including dose, stage of gestation, and dose rate. A number of strategies and administrative controls are used to protect healthcare workers.

Method

JHAH has an active radiation protection program for pregnant radiation workers. The program includes training, exposure monitoring and record review, modifications to working conditions, protective devices and administrative procedures to control exposure. The JHAH Radiation Protection Team provides individual case-based risk assessments and, if required, work condition modifications and necessary administrative procedures are discussed. In addition, occupational medicine provides advice and counselling as required. Two case studies will be discussed showing how the JHAH Radiation Protection program works.

Results

Assessments have shown effective use of time, distance and shielding resulted in exposures well below advised guidelines. Additional radiation monitors worn at the abdomen level of pregnant healthcare workers resulted in enhanced fetus monitoring. In cases assessed, readings have been found below the level of public exposure.

Discussion/conclusion

The JHAH Radiation Protection program demonstrates that proactive measures and regular monitoring provides healthcare workers with reassurance that exposure is well below exposure limits. Risk assessment for pregnant healthcare workers at work provides further reassurance that employees and their fetuses are safe. This psychological assurance has made a positive contribution to increased morale and satisfaction of the healthcare workers.

Discussion/conclusion

It is important to establish radiation guidelines and training programs for pregnant radiation healthcare workers.

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