Background: Important changes have occurred in radiological departments (RDs) over the past 30 years. The procedures have become more complex and the number of patients has increased. This scenario could have important implications for public health and infection control but, to date, the scientific literature has dealt little with matters relating to microbiological monitoring in RDs.
Purpose: To examine the level of microbiological contamination in the main RDs of Turin, a city in northern Italy, in order to analyze the presence of a possible biological risk.
Material and methods: We analyzed data from 12 RDs. Samples were taken from X-ray tubes, control panels, radiographic cassettes, and imaging plates. We used the French guidelines "Standards NF S 90--351" in order to obtain the threshold values of reference. Through a questionnaire we investigated the use of personal protective equipment by the chiefs of the RDs.
Results: We found values out of limits in 41.7% of the X-ray tubes sampled, in 91.7% of the control panels and imaging plates, while only 8% of the radiographic cassettes were contaminated. A total of 58.3% of RDs reported values above the threshold for three out of four samples. In 16.7% of the RDs only one surface presented acceptable values.
Conclusion: Healthcare-associated infections are a cogent issue for the RDs, and knowledge of how to prevent them is increasingly required by health professionals. This study is meant to be a first analysis of the issue that highlights the need of further investigations, maybe with a more detailed monitoring through the characterization of the microbial species involved. Moreover, the development of shared and maybe official standards for the evaluation of microbiological contamination in RDs is strongly suggested.
Keywords: Conventional radiography; equipment; infection; occupational/environmental hazards; safety; technical aspects.
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