Risks of radiation exposure from diagnostic imaging

January 01, 0001

Risks of radiation exposure from diagnostic imaging

The aim of this study by researchers from Queensland, Australia was to assess emergency department (ED) doctors’ knowledge of radiation doses associated with diagnostic imaging and to describe their practice with regard to informing patients of risk. It consisted of a prospective, questionnaire-based observational study in May 2009 among all 110 doctors in the EDs of a 570-bed teaching hospital and a 200-bed district hospital. 96 doctors (87%) completed the questionnaire.

The overall mean knowledge score was 40%. Senior doctors scored somewhat higher than junior doctors, but not significantly (42% v 39%). Over three-quarters of doctors (78%) underestimated the lifetime risk of fatal cancer attributable to a single computed tomography scan of the abdomen. Most doctors (76%) reported never having had any formal training on risks to patients from radiation exposure. The frequency at which doctors would inform patients of the risk of radiation varied greatly depending on the clinical scenario (mean VAS scores, between 38 and 90).

The researchers concluded: "Emergency doctors in our sample had a varied knowledge of the risks from radiation exposure, but overall knowledge was poor. Staff should receive education, and the diagnostic imaging request process may need to include information on radiation doses and risks."

Although set in emergency departments, this does appear to be a gap in my education and training and most of my working colleagues.

For the full abstract, click here.

MJA 193(8):450-453, 18 October 2010
© The Medical Journal of Australia 2010
Doctors’ knowledge of patient radiation exposure from diagnostic imaging requested in the emergency department. Gerben B Keijzers and Charles J Britton. Correspondence to Gerben Keijzers: [email protected]

Category: PT. Professional Training. Keywords: doctors, knowledge, radiation, exposure, imaging, prospective, questionnaire-based observational study, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Melbourne, Australia. Posted on Global Family Doctor 5 November 2010

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.