Answer to Question #13844 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Medical and Dental Patient Issues

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:


When someone receives a medical x ray is it possible for an unskilled technologist to make an error and expose the patient to a large amount of radiation? Is it possible for an x-ray machine to be left on and while the patient stands, they are being exposed to radiation? Do x-ray machines have safety features in place to limit how long and what dose of radiation someone receives on each x ray and what are those?


X-ray scanners do have safety features that limit the radiation exposure time and dose. Modern x-ray systems have programmed protocols with automatic exposure control and backup timers that prevent overexposures. The technologist does not turn the x-ray tube on and off. There are also regulations for the manufacturers of x-ray equipment that limit the maximum techniques for each x-ray image, so the radiation dose is limited. In addition, x-ray systems are tested at least annually by qualified physicists, and radiologists evaluate every image and would notice if there was an unreasonably long exposure. It is extremely unlikely that a patient could be overexposed to a large amount of radiation.

Deirdre H. Elder, MS, CHP, CMLSO

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