Below are answers to some commonly asked questions regarding radiation compliance:
What and who must be registered with the States?
- Equipment Registration – You should register each new x-ray machine with your State, generally within 30 days of acquisition. Most States require periodic (i.e., every year) re-registrations and that the registration certificate be posted in the office in a place where patients can see it. Check your State’s Radiation Control Program requirements for details.
- Operator Licensing – DAs or RDHs who intend to operate x-ray equipment must be licensed to do so. Prerequisites to licensure involve taking a one-time course in radiological techniques and safeguards, passing an exam, and staying current with continuing education.
- Calibration of X-Ray Machines – All States require periodic calibration and preventative maintenance of your x-ray machines; ask your supplier to perform the required calibration and maintenance. In general, you should maintain records of such calibrations and maintenance for three years after the record is made.
- Protective Equipment – Most States require that offices periodically (e.g., at least annually) check their protective equipment such as aprons, gloves and shields for holes, cracks and tears, to replace or repair such defective equipment, and to maintain records of such maintenance.
- Maintenance Records – You should maintain and be able to easily produce certain information regarding your X-ray equipment to facilitate periodic inspections by your State’s Radiation Control Program, including:
- Model and serial number of all major components
- Records of installation, calibrations, maintenance, and modifications
- Certificates of Registration
Use of Dosimeters
- Baseline Monitoring – Although dental personnel generally receive less than the allowable radiation limit set by federal regulations, it is prudent for offices to periodically establish a baseline of radiation exposure to confirm that additional monitoring is not required. To establish a baseline, employees who operate x-ray equipment should wear a dosimetry badge on their lapel, over their PPE, throughout their shifts for a 6-12 month period. If radiation levels stay within 0.5 rem or less within this time period, dosimeter use may be discontinued. You should repeat baseline monitoring every 3-5 years.
- Pregnant Employees – Pregnant employees should notify their employer as soon as they become aware of the pregnancy and should wear dosimeter badges throughout their pregnancies.
Written Safety Procedures
- Procedures – you should maintain written procedures that address employee and patient safety as well as quality assurance of x-ray machines. Employees operating x-ray machines should review (and document their review) of these procedures annually.