Advice for Calming Patients’ Radiation Anxiety

Advice for Calming Patients’ Radiation Anxiety

Just because an imaging procedure like MRI is safe, doesn’t mean that your patients will feel safe. As a radiological technologist, you perform these procedures everyday. You made it through years of schooling, and lots of investment of time and study. Your comfort level with radiation is high, because you know how to use it appropriately, and you understand the nuances of these complex systems. Your patients, however, will almost always lack this insight. Don’t assume that a lead apron or comfy xray positioning sponge is all that’s needed for your patient to feel confident. Sometimes a patient will be distressed when he or she is immobilized. Strapping patients down prevents falls and movements which would obscure the final image, but if immobilization is a source of anxiety, it’s important for you to help your patient through it.

Great radiology accessories and excellent job skills won’t be enough to inspire confidence in some nervous patients. For these individuals, even simple procedures like echocardiogram can be unnerving. Many of these patients will only understand “radiation” in the most abstract sense. The word might call to mind images from comic books, wartime, or half-remembered articles from a friend’s Facebook page. Whatever the cause of radiation anxiety, the radiological technologist is a front line defense to help make the patient feel better. Here are a few simple steps to A) assess and B) relieve such anxiety:

It is possible to determine your patient’s state of mind with a few empathetic questions. “How are you feeling today?” “Have you ever had a procedure like this performed?” “Do you have any questions I can answer before we begin?” You’ll be able to tell by the answer, and even by the tone of voice used, how your patient is really feeling. If you detect anxiety, work to relieve it.

Ask the Right Questions. It is possible to determine your patient’s state of mind with a few empathetic questions. “How are you feeling today?” “Have you ever had a procedure like this performed?” “Do you have any questions I can answer before we begin?” You’ll be able to tell by the answer, and even by the tone of voice used, how your patient is really feeling. If you detect anxiety, work to relieve it.

Ask the Right Questions. It is possible to determine your patient’s state of mind with a few empathetic questions. “How are you feeling today?” “Have you ever had a procedure like this performed?” “Do you have any questions I can answer before we begin?” You’ll be able to tell by the answer, and even by the tone of voice used, how your patient is really feeling. If you detect anxiety, work to relieve it.

Making a radiology patient feel safe is more than making sure the lead apron fits snugly, or the x-ray positioning sponge is sized well. Techno-Aide engineers and sells radiology accessories. But even the best radiology products and most careful expertise won’t be enough to calm down a nervous patient. Take the time to listen to your patient, then soothe worries with the hard facts about radiation safety. Not only will new knowledge promote peace of mind, but your professional courtesy will go a long way in making your patient feel safe during all future procedures.

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