Medical residents lack radiation safety knowledge

While radiology residents score higher when it comes to understanding radiation safety, residents across all specialties still demonstrate a limited amount of radiation safety knowledge, according to a study out of the Emory University School of Medicine.

The study, published online in the journal Academic Radiology, surveyed residents from 15 residency programs at Emory. Thirty-nine percent of the residents who responded to the survey reported that radiation safety is discussed in their residency curriculum at least every six months.

Even though a large majority (95 percent) of residents believe there is a link between radiation exposure and the development of cancer, a limited number demonstrated knowledge of specific estimated dose effects. For example, just 10 percent of residents overall (and 26 percent of radiology residents) could identify the radiation dose associated with fetus brain malformation in pregnancy, while only 22 percent overall (and 29 percent of radiology residents) could estimate the lifetime risk of cancer mortality from a single abdominal CT scan in pediatric patients.

The researchers, led by Gelareh Sadigh, M.D., said that the findings suggested the need for more educational initiatives, such as standardizing basic radiation safety and protection curriculum across all physician specialties.

A prior study published in the Canadian Association of Radiologists Journal found that referring physicians and medical students had misconceptions about whether ionizing radiation was used in certain examinations. For example, 25 percent of physicians and 43 percent of students surveyed were unaware that interventional procedures used ionizing radiation.

Educating referring physicians about the costs of imaging exams, as well as radiation dose, can result in many of them changing their ordering decisions, according to a study published last May in the journal Medical Care.

To learn more:
- see the study in Academic Radiology
- check out the study in the Canadian Association of Radiologists Journal