In this assignment, I will emphasise on the key responsibilities of a student radiographer regarding patient care as outlined in the Health Professions Council documents. Guidance on conduct and ethics provides information on the different ways the public can stay protected by radiographers, including students and enhance their behaviour standards in order to implement a good reputation of the radiography profession. Standards of Proficiency explains the fundamental obligations expected from all health professionals and their elements reflecting on the safe and effective professional practice. I will cover this topic in depth and relate it more to what patients should also expect from radiographers diagnosing their illness or abnormality.
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Statements of professional conduct states a patient is a patient when the responsibility of a professional who comes into contact with a person outside the defined parameters of their professional work, for example an interaction that occurs in the corridor that has relevance to an individual’s clinical care. One who receives medical treatment is the patient and care is the prevention of illness. Patient care also involves saving patients time, access to care and providing information for patients needs for progressive outcomes.
A student radiographer is ethically required to focus on meeting every patient’s needs, including the awareness of diverse cultures and caring consistently with these different needs so care is less affected by cultural issues. As per standard of proficiency for radiographers, contributing effectively to undertaking work as part of a multi-disciplinary team involves non-discrimination against race, ethnicity, religious variation, gender, age and many others. Radiography is a profession that has its own code of ethics which requires all radiographers to disregard any personal prejudice in a professional setting. It is a prohibited act to engage with patients in a dishonest or unfaithful communication in relation to education or background.
Effective communication between radiographers and patients is vital in a health care environment in order to achieve an optimum quality radiograph. Radiographers must fight with the barriers that prevents them from addressing the patient properly, obtaining informed consent for examination (HPC 2009 B), explaining the procedure, providing clear instructions and telling them what to do after the examination. Due to the limited time radiographers spent with patients, especially students have the chance to gain confidence on how to deal with patients so they can have a communication style that encourages patients to play as an active participator in their care. Communicating clearly with service users in a considerate and respectful manner to achieve a professional relationship in the NHS is a skill that must be learnt. A student radiographer does this by making the message that is being conveyed clear for a two-way process to occur.
A competent radiographer must understand that children are different to elderly patients therefore should not be spoken to in a patronising and child-like language. They should not be treated equally in the method of language approached in as they can feel uncomfortable. The elderly might have difficulty hearing therefore need to be spoken louder to and at a moderate pace for them to understand but that does not suggest the radiographer stops caring for them, in fact they require special consideration due to their physical problems. It is a radiographer’s duty to handle occurring barriers effectively, for example, calling a certified radiographer to interpret a foreign language for the examination to proceed.
Radiographers should approach their patients in a professional manner and communicate with them in an effective way, allowing them to see a good atmosphere of the department. This should be done by addressing them in a good manner for example, “Good afternoon, Mrs. Hopson. I’m Will Smith, the student radiographer”, which expresses respect and friendliness and strengthens the relationship of the radiographer and patient. It is a radiographer’s duty to make patients feel that they are being cared for and not feel abandoned at any point. Many checks need to be finalised before the radiographer drives ahead with the examination. It is important to confirm the patients details at all times so that they are identifying the correct patient, otherwise the wrong person gets the wrong exposure for no particular reason causing harm and danger to the body.
There are many factors within patient protection employed to reduce the dose of patients, such as: avoiding errors by verifying patient identification so correct patient is called for the right examination, avoiding repeat x-rays by carrying out good routine procedures to prevent repeat exposures occurring, collimate to the best of interest using the smallest radiation field no greater than the IR size, selecting appropriate source, image, distance and exposure for an acceptable image quality and finally providing shield for the gonads, thyroid, eyes and breasts when applicable. When a student radiographer is undertaking an examination under supervision, it is still their responsibility to keep the patient in safe conditions at all time.
A radiographer ensures that they meet patients’ needs at all times and they are positioned and made comfortable throughout the process. The aim is not to harm them in any way and prevent errors and if errors are made to learn from them. For example, protecting patient from radiation as excess of radiation and therefore should optimise the dose, is dangerous using lead apron, using appropriate amount of dose. The ALARA principle states that radiation exposures must be applied by limiting the levels as it can results in various types of injuries, such as stochastic effects which will occur depending on the received dose, the greater the dose the more the risk of it causing harm. Radiographers should not pose unnecessary radiation exposures to the public or to themselves and the dose from any necessary exposures must be kept to the lowest levels that are as low as reasonably achievable.
Risks are created for both radiographers and patients when exposing xrays. This is a critical part of a student radiographer’s ethical responsibility to require knowledge and understanding about radiation safety and to implement it to avoid excessive radiation exposures to patient, colleagues and yourself. There are three principal methods that prevent x-ray machine operators from unnecessary exposures: time, distance and shielding. Under The Ionising Radiation Regulations 2000, student radiographers as the worker practice the guideline of laying down measures of protecting the patients’ health against the dangers of medical exposure as part of the diagnosis by equipping the patient with lead aprons, gonads and using available sponges to position the patient correctly so that radiation is not exposed twice due to positioning error.
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As a registrant radiographer, it is expected that they understand the obligation to maintain fitness to practice within their scope of practice (HPC 2009 B). Moving and transferring patients in the safest yet comfort position is a must for a qualified and a student radiographer, they are responsible for assessing the patient’s mobility and judge the patients physical and psychological wellbeing professionally. For example a patient with the ability to walk would be expected to be able to stand up for a chest x-ray, however a patient in a trolley may have lack of movement so the image would be exposed whilst they are either laid down or sat up depending on their mobility. This knowledge related to patient care provides the treatment to proceed and achieve a diagnostic result. In some cases, it is recommended to ask the patient about their mobility whereas other times it is either reported on the request card or can be judged by the way the patient comes in. HPC 2009 B also outlines the importance of a registrant radiographer being able to practice as an independent professional by exercising their own professional judgment.
A student radiographer has the responsibility to read, understand and obey the requirements of becoming a qualified health professional in order to remain registered and gain the right to use the title of the occupation in the future. Guidance on conduct and ethics clearly says radiographers should keep their professional knowledge and skills up to date (HPC 2009 A), it is their responsibility as an individual to learn certain aspects and understanding of the changes that take place in their career, for example, in the medical history section of a request card doctors may arise an abbreviation, illness or a fracture that is not familiar to the student radiographer, in this situation they must not ignore it and carry out the task, instead pause to find out the unknown information by surfing the internet or asking an authorised radiographer for assistance. Especially for a student radiographer, it is important to act within the limits of their knowledge and skills (HPC 2009 A) as claiming something that is beyond their knowledge and skills, things can turn out to be the opposite according to what they believe. If they are unsure of a task they should make sure they approach a supervising radiographer and enquire help and support as that is a sensible method to overcome doubts about the query.
In respect to patient care, respecting modesty and maintaining dignity is prior to safe keeping individuals personal detail significantly in health care is vital. In an enema physical examination it is best for a health worker of the same gender being present with the patient as they would tend to be much sensitive and uncomfortable in these situations. This complies with legal obligations of the ‘Data Protection Act 1998′. Regardless of status, all patients’ record must be kept legible and accurate in order to maintain professional and appropriate data.
Legally and ethically, a radiographer is obliged to protecting patient rights ensuring no data is displayed in front of others or transported as it will make them feel insecure about their private medical record by destroying their doctor-patient relationship instead of maintaining confidentiality. As reported in the Standards of Proficiency documents, registrant radiographers must understand the importance and being able to maintain confidentiality. However, the patient themselves have the right towards information of their medical record and radiographic images as set out in the Human Rights Act 1998 “designed to protect individual human rights and fundamental freedoms”. As a student radiographer’s professional duty, they must always approach the public in a professional manner by conducting appropriate diagnostic or monitoring procedures, treatment, therapy or other actions safely and skillfully (HPC 2009 B). Due to many patients bringing their personal belongings with them to the imaging department, they must remove their items for the procedure to start; a student radiographer is accountable for making sure that after the examination is completed they take their valuables with them. Patients in the dressing room may feel uneasy about leaving their items there so the radiographer again should consider this concern and clarify what they must do to keep them protected, for instance, a radiographer can ask the patient to check if their door is locked from access.
It is a duty of a student radiographer worker to deal fairly and safely with the risks of infection (HPC 2009 A) by performing the different infection control techniques in respect to patient care. It is required for all student and staff radiographers to show they have immunity to hepatitis B, rubella and some others. In order to distinguish the spread of infection, avoid working if you are ill, advertise the patients to sneeze and cough with their mouth covered and attire clean uniform or scrubs every day and remove before departing from the hospital. In between each patient contact, apply the hand washing method effectively for reducing the probability of infectivity.
The responsibilities of a student radiographer discussed are very important in respect to patient care as defined by the HPC documents.
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