Lead is a dense element that is used inside of an apron to protect the body from radiation due to X-rays or other medical procedures. Lead aprons are important for protecting vital organs from damage and exposure. Hospitals and other medical facilities must inspect their lead aprons in order to make sure that they are effective in protecting the patient by reducing the number of gamma and X-rays that the body will come into contact with. If the aprons have damage then they must be replaced.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Fluoroscopic X-ray imaging equipment
- List of hazardous waste procedures for your state
Inspect the lead aprons physically for any obvious damage like tears, seams that are coming unravelled, perforations or thinning creases.
Remove all lead aprons that do not pass the physical inspection immediately and replace with new aprons.
Examine fluoroscopically aprons that passed the physical test. Set the machine to a manual setting and do not use the automatic brightness control because this will produce unwanted radiation and give an inaccurate reading while trying to determine if there is damage such as rotting or vampire marks tiny holes resembling teeth marks). The shielded areas will be dark and the defects, seams and stitching will appear light on the films.
Dispose of all aprons with defects by following the proper procedures for getting rid of hazardous waste.
Repeat lead apron inspections on at least an annual basis, preferably semi-annually.
Tips and warnings
- It is ideal to use both the physical and fluoroscopic methods of inspecting even if both are not required. This will ensure that the patients are getting the maximum amount of protection.
- If you do not have access to fluoroscopic equipment then the lead aprons can be inspected radioscopically using X-ray equipment that produces a still image on a screen. This will provide the same type of information.
- Check your state's regulations for inspection requirements so that you make sure your facility is following the proper procedures and meeting the expectations of safety.
- Damaged lead aprons will not provide the amount of protection needed to shield the body from X-rays and radiation.
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