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Hand-Held Dental X-Ray Units
So you want/need new x-ray equipment – how about a hand-held dental unit? Actually why not, as this may well be a good alternative to consider for your circumstances (you have a number of rooms in which you want to take x-rays and one or two of these units would be cheaper than kitting out all of them with their own wall mounted unit, or you carry out domiciliary imaging, as just a coupe of examples).
But you may encounter some staff resistance – after all as the operator it is essential to hold the unit and it is therefore not possible to leave the room (or get as far away from the unit as possible in a safe position in the room), so they cannot be safe surely. Well yes they can and reading the 2016 Guidance on the Safe Use of Hand-Held Dental X-ray Equipment (PHE-CRCE-023) will help you in making an informed choice. It may surprise you that testing carried out on hand-held units has shown that with the use of good equipment and good training, doses to operators can be kept to levels comparable to those from the use of wall mounted units.
However, buyer beware! – there are particularly cheap examples of this type of equipment that can be found on-line. The testing of one example – which can still be purchased from overseas sources – indicated that doses to the hands of the operator were so high that deterministic effects (e.g. skin burns) could become likely. Not surprisingly there is an MHRA warning out on this unit.
And if you are an employer please remember there is a duty under Section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSAWA 1974) for you to be sure that an article is safe for use and also a requirement for you to provide adequate information (to employees) to be able to use it safely.
My advice? Simply to get as much information as you can to help make the decision as to whether using one of these units in your practice is a suitable option. The PHE document, as well as helping with exploring the benefits and drawbacks, will also be a valuable reference tool for any necessary in-house training. And do make use of your RPA – remember the IRR17 requires that (along with the inspection of plans) they must be consulted on the bringing into service of any new or modified equipment.

Stephen Green CRadP MSRP MIPEM MBIR
25.6.2018

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