3 Challenges of Portable X-Ray: A Tech’s Perspective
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Guest Post: Darnell Ramiscal RT (R) (CT), Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital,Hines,IL, blogs about diagnostic imaging from a tech’s perspective at darnellramiscal.com.
To the untrained eye, a portable x-ray exam might not seem like much of a challenge. Point, aim, and shoot. Well, don’t forget everything else in
between. As X-ray Techs, we face many challenges during a shift with portable x-rays almost always near the top of our list. Here are the top three challenges of mobile x-ray from my perspective:
- Navigating a patient’s room with a portable x-ray machine can be akin to driving a semi truck…sans trailer…in a busy parking lot. Although some room renovations are helping to provide a better overall hospital experience for patients, the existing small rooms with multiple occupants make for a tight fit and limited workspace. Our digital portable unit allows doctors to view images in mere seconds. It also comes with the need for more vertical clearance, a cumbersome tether, and a heavier imaging plate. Wireless please!
- We have many cassettes, but one size does not fit all. The majority of portable exams are done for adult chest x-rays, followed by x-rays of the abdomen. The typical cassette size (CR, in my case) is 14” x 17”. Our digital (DR) portable unit has a plate that measures 16” x 16”. Unfortunately, not everyone has lungs that can fit perfectly on our standard image receptors. Although uncommon, there are times when techs have to make the “walk of shame” back to a patient for a repeat x-ray because, for some apparent reason, not all of a patient’s anatomy fit on one cassette. For DR, the image receptor is repositioned and the patient is told that a repeat x-ray has to be done. What body habitus provides the biggest challenge? The asthenic body habitus for chests and hypersthenic for an abdomen.
- Portable x-ray machines traverse from room to room. A big challenge hospitals face everyday is infection control with MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) and C. diff (Clostridium Difficile) being the major culprits. Although there has been a much welcome decline in infection rates over the past few years, there is much more that can be done to prevent the spread of infection. Standard precautions and thoroughly cleaning cassettes along with the portable x-ray unit are keys to preventing cross contamination. Preventing the spread of infection is a hospital-wide, team effort. We’re winning some battles, but the war is far from over.
Portable x-rays may just be one of many challenges we face each day, but these challenges not only make our job interesting, they makes us better techs.
Are there other challenges you face when making your portable x-ray rounds?