Original Research

Medical doctors’ awareness of radiation exposure in diagnostic radiology investigations in a South African academic institution

Akingboye M. Dauda, John O. Ozoh, Olakunle A. Towobola
South African Journal of Radiology | Vol 23, No 1 | a1707 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajr.v23i1.1707 | © 2019 Akingboye M. Dauda, John O. Ozoh, Olakunle A. Towobola | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 December 2018 | Published: 30 April 2019

About the author(s)

Akingboye M. Dauda, Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Imaging, Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital, Ga-Rankuwa, Pretoria, South Africa
John O. Ozoh, Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Imaging, Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital, Ga-Rankuwa, Pretoria, South Africa
Olakunle A. Towobola, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Ga-Rankuwa, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Diagnostic investigations using radiation have become a critical feature of medical practice in recent times. However, the possibility of doctors’ underestimation of risks of over-exposure of patients to diagnostic radiation still warrants further evaluation.

Objectives: To investigate doctors’ awareness of diagnostic radiation exposure at Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital, South Africa.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional, analytical investigation of the awareness of doctors about radiation exposure in diagnostic radiology investigations. A cluster sampling technique was employed to recruit 217 participants. Consent and approval of the participants were sought and obtained before questionnaire administration during departmental meetings between October 2017 and March 2018.

Results: Of the participants, 80% had no formal training on radiation exposure and 33.8% of them correctly estimated natural background radiation. Correct estimates of the effective dose from a single-view abdominal X-ray (AXR) were expressed by 7.5%, quantity of radiation of a single-phase computed tomography (CT) abdomen by 30.3% and dosage from a two-view unilateral mammogram by 29.1% of the participants. More than 75% of participants agreed that children are more sensitive to radiation, but only 10.5% suggested medical termination of pregnancy for a woman who had CT abdomen and pelvis with contrast. Dosage and risk of inducing fatal cancer from common but more complex imaging procedures were poorly understood. Only the doctors of the radiology department showed a statistically significant (p < 0.0001) association with regards to their radiation awareness.

Conclusion: Because of the high rate of poor awareness of radiation risks observed in this study, it is important to initiate, early in the medical curriculum for medical students, the need for a rotation in the Department of Radiology, similar to such rotations in other medical specialties.


Keywords

Awareness; medical doctors; diagnostic radiology; radiation protection; exposure; risk; patient safety; education and training.

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