Development and Evaluation of a Radiation Safety Program in the NICU

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Purpose: To develop and evaluate a radiation safety program used to educate NICU staff regarding safety procedures to minimize the effects of radiation on the newborn.

Background: Advancements in medical care have resulted in infants born at lower gestational ages and higher acuity. With increased acuity comes an increase in diagnostic testing, including radiologic imaging. Although x-rays are necessary, they do not come without risk, including the future development of cancers.

Methods: The number of x-rays completed in the NICU over a one-year period, was evaluated prior to the radiation safety program, directly after implementation, and five years postintervention.

Results: Prior to the radiation safety program, the mean number of x-rays was 4.2 per patient per NICU admission. Immediately after implementation, the mean decreased to 3.8 per patient, and five years postintervention, the mean significantly decreased to 1.9 x-rays per patient per NICU stay.

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