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Health Care–Associated Infections and the Radiology Department

  • Ilyas, Fatima
  • Burbridge, Brent
  • Babyn, Paul
Published Article
Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences
Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists.
Publication Date
Oct 14, 2019
DOI: 10.1016/j.jmir.2019.07.011
PMID: 31623975
PMCID: PMC7104925
PubMed Central


Health care–associated infections (HCAIs) are a significant concern for both health care workers (HCWs) and patients. They are a major contributing factor of disease in industrialized countries, and are responsible for significant morbidity, mortality, and a direct annual financial loss of $6-7 billion in North America alone. They are an increasingly challenging health issue due to multidrug-resistant pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant Enterococci among others, along with an increasing number of susceptible patients. Over the last three decades, the risk of HCAIs has increased in the radiology department (RD) in part because of an increased number of patients visiting the department and an increase in the utilization of imaging modalities. In this review, we will discuss how patients and staff can be exposed to HCAIs in the RD, including contaminated inanimate surfaces, radiology equipment, and associated medical devices. As the role of medical imaging has extended from primarily diagnosis to include more interventions, the implementation and development of standardized infection minimization protocols and infection control procedures are vital in the RD, particularly in interventional radiology. With globalisation and the rapid movement of people regionally, nationally, and globally, there is greater risk of exposure to contagious diseases such as Ebola, especially if infected patients are undiagnosed when they travel. For effective infection control, advanced training and education of HCWs in the RD is essential. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of HCAIs as related to activities of the RD. We will discuss the following major topics including the variety of HCAIs commonly encountered, the role of the RD in HCAIs, transmission of infections to patients and HCWs in the RD, standard infection prevention measures, and the management of susceptible/infected patients in the RD. We shall also examine the role of, and the preparedness of, HCWs, including RD technologists and interventional radiologists, who may be exposed to undiagnosed, yet infected patients. We shall conclude with a brief discussion of the role of further research related to HCAIs. Learning Objectives After the completion of this review article, the readers will • Understand the exposure and role of radiology department in health care–associated infections, • Know the causes/modes/transmission of infections in radiology department, • Be conscious of standard disinfection protocols, • Be aware of current and future strategies required for the effective control of health care–associated infection in the radiology department. This is a CME article and provides the equivalent of 2 hours of continuing education that may be applied to your professional development credit system. A 10-question multiple-choice quiz follows this reading. Please note that no formalized credit (category A) is available from CAMRT .

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