The Radiology Technologist and Infection Control in the Age of COVID-19

Steven Marks

*President, MedCom Consultants, Inc, Potomac, MD

Address correspondence to: Steven Marks, MedCom Consultants Inc, 1311 Fallsmead Way, Potomac MD 20854. E-mail: steven.marks52@gmail.com.

Disclosure statement: Steven Marks reports having no financial or advisory relationship with any corporate, medical, or political organization doing work related to this course or other business activity at MedCom Consultants, Inc. At the time of original publication, Ms Rieffanaugh reported having no significant financial or advisory relationships with corporate organizations related to this course.

(Note: This course is an expanded and updated revision of The Medical Imaging Technologist's Role in Infection Control, written by Erica C. Schuster Rieffanaugh, RT(R)(CT), that was published in 2015.)

ABSTRACT

Radiologic technologists are exposed to many infectious diseases during their interactions with patients and coworkers. Understanding the varied virulence, transmissibility, and pathogenicity of these microorganisms, along with the means to prevent their spread, can reduce the incidence of infection, especially for those acquired in healthcare settings. Traditionally, infection prevention and control (IPC) has been of secondary concern to radiology department professionals. Training in such practices has been erratic in the past, and many workers have neglected the use of protective eyewear and other gear when examining patients. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic, which began in late in 2019, has significantly changed the playing field, making IPC a heightened priority throughout the healthcare system. Standard precautions have been promulgated by leading national and international public health agencies and professional organizations to ensure that all staff, equipment, and environmental spaces are properly prepared prior to patient encounters and then decontaminated following the intervention. These recommendations have been expanded to incorporate the special demands raised by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Following these guidelines can help reduce the transmission of infectious pathogens from patient-to-patient, patient to-healthcare worker, and healthcare worker-to-healthcare worker.

The purpose of this course is to inform the medical imaging professional of the means by which infectious pathogens are spread by respiratory droplets and aerosols, infected blood, and bodily fluids. Standard precautions are detailed, and current IPC guidelines updated as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic will also be explored, as will the core role the radiology department and radiographers must play in managing the disease's effects. This course will conclude with a review of several other relevant infections that can be encountered on a day-to-day basis when working in a healthcare environment.

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