Physician exposure to ionizing radiation during trauma resuscitation: A prospective clinical study

Eric L. Weiss, Craig M. Singer, Stanley H Benedict, Larry J. Baraff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


A prospective study of emergency physician whole body and extremity exposure to ionizing radiation during trauma resuscitation over a three-month period was conducted. Radiation film badges and thermoluminescent dosimeter finger rings were permanently attached to leaded aprons worn by emergency medicine residents during all trauma resuscitations. One set of apron and finger ring dosimeters was designated for the resident who managed the airway and stabilized the neck, when necessary, during cervical spine radiography (A-CS resident). A separate set of dosimeters was designated for the resident supervising the resuscitation. During the study period, 150 major trauma patients requiring 481 radiographic studies were treated. The mean monthly cumulative whole body exposures were 136.7 ± 85.0 and 103.3 ± 60.3 mrem for A-CS and supervising residents, respectively. The mean weekly cumulative extremity exposures were 523.3 ± 611.0 and 46.7 ± 18.6 mrem for A-CS and supervising residents, respectively. Calculated whole body exposures per patient were 2.7 mrem for the A-CS resident and 2.1 mrem for the supervising resident. Calculated extremity exposures per patient were 41.9 ± 48.9 and 3.7 ± 1.5 mrem, respectively. To exceed the annual whole body exposure limit established by the National Council of Radiologic Protection, the A-CS resident, working 200 shifts per year, would have to treat 9.2 trauma patients per shift. To exceed the annual extremity exposure limit, the A-CS resident would have to treat 5.9 trauma patients per shift. Of note, European exposure limits are 10% of current US limits. We conclude that significant exposures may occur to physicians working in trauma centers and that the use of shielding devices is indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-138
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1990



  • radiation, ionizing
  • radiation, protection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

Cite this