The primary purpose of radiography is to obtain images that assist practitioners in diagnosis and treatment. Patient and employee safety are very important, so too, is obtaining the image needed. The ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) and ALARP (As Low As Reasonably Practicable) principles are based on reducing exposure to ionizing radiation by employing all reasonable methods. Here are three facts about ALARA and ALARP:
- Proper training is crucial.It may be tempting to have employees multi-task, performing several different functions including obtaining radiographic images. But a person who is not trained in the ALARA or ALARP principles may unwittingly cause harm to patients or himself by taking longer-than-necessary exposures or capturing more images than are needed.
- Maintain the proper distance from a source of radiation.Whenever possible, while administering imaging tests, adhere to best practices and stay the proper distance away from ionizing radiation to be protected from exposure. In some instances — such as veterinary X-rays for an animal — it is practically impossible to stay far away. In those situations, use as much shielding as necessary for protection.
- Shielding applies to both environment and individuals.When designing imaging rooms, make sure the lead walls are the proper thickness. It’s ineffective for employees to be stepping behind a protective wall if that wall is not really protecting them. Additionally, all physicians, nurses and technicians who work with ionizing radiation should be using lead aprons, thyroid collars and lead gloves.
Long ago, researchers determined that it’s impossible to avoid exposure to ionizing radiation completely. The ALARA or ALARP principles, when followed, can protect patients, employees and the reputation of a high-quality health care facility.