At its June meeting, the ASRT Board of Directors held extensive discussions about the emerging issue of ending the use of patient gonadal and fetal shielding during medical diagnostic x-ray procedures.
The issue has become top-of-mind within the radiologic technology community as gonadal and fetal shielding are longstanding practices for facilities and radiologic technologists. In addition, the community cannot take this issue lightly as changing radiation safety best practices that have been in place for decades would require amendments to educational programs, state statutes, certifications, facility protocols and patient expectations.
The American Association of Physicists in Medicine released a statement in April recommending the discontinuation of gonadal and fetal shielding during x-ray procedures.
The ASRT carefully reviewed the AAPM statement to evaluate how the findings would affect ASRT’s 156,000 members and patient care. After the AAPM release its statement, ASRT heard from several members and facilities that do not agree with the recommendation to remove gonadal and fetal shielding protocols.
At this time, the ASRT Board cannot endorse the proposal to remove gonadal and fetal shielding. The Board believes the community needs to conduct more research, review the science and participate in further discussions to determine if the recommendation benefits patients and the radiologic technology community.
ASRT has a number of questions about the proposed changes. ASRT Chairman of the Board Dr. Melissa B. Jackowski and ASRT Deputy CEO Greg Morrison are serving on an AAPM task force that is reviewing the gonadal and fetal shielding issue. Dr. Jackowski and Morrison are in discussions with the AAPM to understand how the proposal will affect patients as well as the professionals who provide their care.
The ASRT Board plans to meet this fall to discuss the issue further, review the scientific findings and understand the issue more in depth before making any decisions that could affect the safety of patients and radiologic technologists.
AHEC weighed in on the subject in January 2018, What Would You Do? Stop Shielding Your Patients? with some interesting comments from our audience.
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