What Patients Can Do
As a patient, you too can play a role in dealing with the exposure to radiation received by your body – before, during and after the examination. Here’s what you can do:
When you visit your physician, don’t hesitate to ask questions you might have regarding the need for an examination. Your physician will choose the appropriate imaging method to make the right diagnosis but make sure he or she is aware of any other X-rays or scans you may have had elsewhere to avoid unnecessary scans.
Immediately prior to the examination, talk to the medical technician and discuss the procedure with them. Let them know in advance if you are, or think you might be, pregnant. Follow their instructions carefully. During a chest X-ray, for example, you will be asked to hold your breath during the exposure as any movement can result in the image being blurred. If the X-ray has to be retaken, your exposure will be unnecessarily doubled. If you aren’t provided with a protective shield, such as a lead apron, to protect other parts of your body around the area being examined, ask for one.
After the examination, keep a record of your imaging history, including the name and address of the medical facility, date and type of image taken, especially if you are undergoing treatment that requires regular scans or X-rays and make sure that each of your medical practitioners know about them. If you need a dental X-ray, for example, tell your dentist about other scans or X-rays you’ve had that they might not know about. In some cases, it might avoid an unnecessary examination that has already been carried out elsewhere.