At least one monitoring device must be provided for each person occupationally exposed to ionizing radiation. There are many companies that provide radiation monitoring services; a selected list of companies that service the veterinary profession on a national level is included in the box to the right.
Most hospitals will select a service and exchange their radiation badges on a monthly basis. In hospitals where few radiographs are taken, or where the monitor reports consistently record no occupational exposure, it may be advantageous to only exchange the badges on a quarterly basis. Check with your monitoring badge supplier to see if they offer this level of service.
Wearing the Badge
When only one badge is worn, it's usually referred to as a "whole body" badge. The whole body badge should be worn on the collar level on the OUTSIDE of protective apparel. The readings from the whole body badge are mathematically calculated to reflect the expected dose to various parts of the body assuming normal safety precautions have been followed. Wearing them on the sleeve or beneath protective apparel will likely result in over- or under-exposure and won't be truly indicative of the staff member's risk.
The Control Badge
The purpose of wearing a dosimetry badge when taking radiographs is to record the levels of radiation the staff member receives as part of their job. The allowable doses of occupational radiation are calculated to reflect the safety limits for people working around radiation throughout their lifetime but does not include other sources of radiation such as exposure to sunlight or having radiographs taken of oneself for medical reasons.
There are times when the badges may be exposed to radiation when not worn by the staff member. That radiation is neither a hazard for the staff member nor useful in calculating their exposure or risk. The only way to know the "exact" amount of exposure that does pose a risk and to eliminate the "incidental" exposure to the badges is to have a device that is NEVER intentionally exposed to radiation when it's separated from the other badges. This device is called a control badge.
Each batch of badges from the monitoring service is "indexed" to a specific control badge. If that control badge shows any exposure to radiation, it's assumed that all of the badges had similar exposures. And since the control badge is never worn by a staff member, it's assumed that the exposure is extraneous to the occupational hazards such as may happen when the badges are inadvertently exposed during transit. Therefore, the amount of any exposure to the control badge is subtracted from any readings on the staff's badges.
For those reasons, it's important to use and store the badges properly:
Remember, the dosimetry badge will not prevent a person from receiving radiation, but it is part of the protection system. Abnormal readings are usually the first indication of a problem with the equipment, techniques or restraint procedures.
Notifying Staff Members of Badge Readings
OSHA standards and most state regulations require the practice to inform staff members of their occupational exposure to radiation on a periodic basis. At a minimum, staff members must be informed of their exposure measurements annually and if there is any exposure above 25 rems in any reporting period. All notifications must be in writing.
However, the practice leadership must balance that need with the need to maintain all employee's personal information in an appropriate manner. Simply posting the monitoring service reports on the employee bulletin board so everyone can see them is not a good idea for a number of reasons.
Reports typically contain personal information such as birth dates, employee ID numbers and even social security numbers. Furthermore, the exposure readings themselves are usually considered privileged medical information under some state and federal privacy laws such as HIPPA.
The best solution is to prepare individual reports that are provided to each staff member at least once a year. Those reports can be a simple in-house form that the radiology coordinator or manager prepares. Or they can be an individual report prepared by the dosimetry service company in addition to the total workplace report that is commonly used by the manager to monitor the entire program.
Any written notifications to staff members should contain appropriate identifying data (practice ID and employee name), the individualís exposure data, and the phrase "This report is furnished to you under the provisions of OSHA Standard 1910.1096 and applicable state regulations. You should preserve this report for future reference."
In the end, it's important to use and store the badges properly if the information they provide is to be relied upon. And that information must be used wisely and with consideration to the privacy rights of the staff member.
The information on these pages is excerpted from