Am I going to glow in the dark if I do too many X-rays?
The answer is no, but you won’t believe how frequently this question is asked. Patients’ fear of radiation and claustrophobia with MRIs is something faced every day.
Western Sydney Local Health District radiographers know how to step up their game to improve patient experience and battle X-ray trepidation.
Westmead tutor radiographer Cameron Moore said reading patients’ social and verbal cues was key. So too was taking time to explain what was about to happen.
“Most people think radiographers are the people pressing buttons and working with machines. They’re not wrong, but our top priority besides a good image is to make the patient comfortable and put them at ease,” Cameron said.
“Let’s be honest, no-one wants to be in a situation where they need to get imaging, especially if they are in pain or feeling vulnerable. It means something might be wrong. Having a scan is the first step of a patient’s journey.
“Empathy is really important. We take time, talk them through the procedure and reassure that what we are doing is safe. Once the patient has settled in, only then can we start working with equipment.”
This November the district celebrates National Radiographers and Radiation Therapist Week (NRRTW). The theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Elevating patient care’.
There are about 75 radiation therapists across Blacktown and Westmead hospitals and 70 radiographers at Westmead Hospital.
Westmead chief radiographer Gloria Olivieri said Medical Radiology was a very broad field with many sub-specialties.
“We are a link between patient and doctor. Without a proper scan or x-ray image, it can be difficult to diagnose the patient presentation,” Gloria said.
“Sometimes imaging is a part of the intervention treatment, like placing a stent in the artery. Depending on their specialisation, medical radiation scientists can scan to assist with the patient’s diagnosis and treatment.”
Cameron said a patient-centred approach and caring attitude were essential for this first-point-of-care encounter.
“It’s often forgotten how frontline we actually are,” he said.
“There is always a need for human connection. Even if it’s a chest x-ray for a COVID-19 patient, with precaution measures taken and the specialist fully dressed in personal protective equipment.
“After all, it’s still two people in a room, talking to each other.”