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Radiation safety and knowledge: an international survey of 708 interventional pain physicians


Introduction Interventional pain procedures have increased in complexity, often requiring longer radiation exposure times and subsequently higher doses. The practicing physician requires an in-depth knowledge and evidence-based knowledge of radiation safety to limit the health risks to themselves, patients and healthcare staff. The objective of this study was to examine current radiation safety practices and knowledge among interventional pain physicians and compare them to evidence-based recommendations.

Materials and methods A 49-question survey was developed based on an extensive review of national and international guidelines on radiation safety. The survey was web-based and distributed through the following professional organizations: Association of Pain Program Directors, American Academy of Pain Medicine, American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, European Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Therapy, International Neuromodulation Society, and North American Neuromodulation Society. Responses to radiation safety practices and knowledge questions were evaluated and compared with evidence-based recommendations. An exploratory data analysis examined associations with radiation safety training/education, geographical location, practice type, self-perceived understanding, and fellowship experience.

Results Of 708 responding physicians, 93% reported concern over the health effects of radiation, while only 63% had ever received radiation safety training/education. Overall, ≥80% physician compliance with evidence-based radiation safety practice recommendations was demonstrated for only 2/15 survey questions. Physician knowledge of radiation safety principles was low, with 0/10 survey questions having correct response rates ≥80%.

Conclusion We have identified deficiencies in the implementation of evidence-based practices and knowledge gaps in radiation safety. Further education and training are warranted for both fellowship training and postgraduate medical practice. The substantial gaps identified should be addressed to better protect physicians, staff and patients from unnecessary exposure to ionizing radiation during interventional pain procedures.

  • pain management
  • chronic pain
  • education

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. The deidentified data can be requested from Pain Diagnostics and Interventional Care.

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