The radiographers' role in information giving prior to consent for computed tomography scans: A cross-sectional survey
Purpose Computed tomography (CT) use has increased in recent years with concerns regarding radiation risk. Informed consent requires that patients are informed of risks and benefits; however, it is known that radiation risk communication occurs infrequently between referrers and patients. This research aimed to explore the role CT radiographers play in giving information to patients prior to CT; specifically, whether they can give appropriate and accurate information to facilitate informed decisions. Results An on-line cross-sectional survey of UK-based CT radiographers returned 78 completed questionnaires. Participants predominantly saw their role as giving procedural information to reassure the patient. Only 23.1% stated that they discussed the risks of radiation at least sometimes; iodinated contrast risks were discussed more frequently (44.9% always, 28.2% sometimes). Participants felt referrers should take a greater role in discussing CT risk/benefit with patients. Although 92% of radiographers felt confident in giving CT information, when asked to respond to a patient regarding the radiation dose that would be received during a CT abdomen/pelvis scan, 45% would not give a dose or equivalence and only 23% could give accurate dose estimates, with 28% grossly underestimating the dose. Conclusions There is variation in practice for information giving and consent procedure in CT. Radiation information communication is infrequent between radiographers in this study and their patients, unless the patient specifically asks about the risks. Relatively few radiographers who completed the survey could give an accurate estimation of radiation doses in CT.