COVID-19 pandemic and the effect of increased utilisation of mobile X-ray examinations on radiation dose to radiographers
Journal of Medical Radiation Sciences
Introduction: The use of ionising radiation results in occupational exposure to medical imaging professionals, requiring routine monitoring. This study aims to assess the effect of increased utilisation of mobile X-ray units, mobile imaging of non-routine body regions and radiographer work practice changes for impact on staff radiation dose during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: A retrospective analysis of general radiology departments across two metropolitan hospitals was performed. Personal radiation monitor exposure reports between January 2019 and December 2020 were analysed. Statistical analysis was conducted using a Mann–Whitney U test when comparing each quarter, from 2019 to 2020. Categorical data were compared using a Chi-squared test. Results: Mobile X-ray use during the pandemic increased approximately 1.7-fold, with the peak usage observed in September 2020. The mobile imaging rate per month of non-routine body regions increased from approximately 6.0–7.8%. Reported doses marginally increased during Q2, Q3 and Q4 of 2020 (in comparison to 2019 data), though was not statistically significant (Q2: P = 0.13; Q3: P = 0.31 and Q4 P = 0.32). In Q1, doses marginally decreased and were not statistically significant (P = 0.22). Conclusion: Increased utilisation and work practice changes had no significant effect on reported staff radiation dose. The average reported dose remained significantly lower than the occupational dose limits for radiation workers of 20 mSv.
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