(photo credit: Courtesy)
Radiation is no longer confined only to hospital radiology institutes for
diagnoses of various disorders and treating cancer; it is being utilized in
operating theaters, catheterization rooms and various other departments and thus
endangers doctors and other medical staffers, the Israel Medical Association
said on Thursday.
Services at some of the places where they are employed
were disrupted due to the absence of doctors who attended an assembly at Tel
Aviv’s Land of Israel Museum from mid-morning to mid-afternoon.
was held to discuss risks and demand recognition from the Treasury for their
efforts during the current campaign for a new wage agreement.
chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman, an anesthesiologist who spends much time in
surgical theaters, protested the fact that many physicians are not recognized as
at-risk professionals exposed to radiation.
He said that hospital
maintenance and supervision of radiation machinery is poor and puts the doctors
Eidelman maintained that previous wage agreements did not take
into account that technological advances make radiation much more widespread and
pose greater risks.
The IMA chairman said that starting in July – current
sanctions began two months ago – the doctors will function “according to the
book” in maintaining strict regulations and will consider actions regarding
their exposure to radiation.
IMA deputy chairman Dr.
Eiling, who represents physicians working in Clalit Health Services hospitals,
said, “All of us are exposed to radiation in significant amounts, but despite
the fact that the law recognizes people exposed to radiation as radiation
workers‚ with more vacation time and a glass of milk a day [to bind with
radioactive isotopes in the body], the health system ignores us.”
Nimrod Rahamimov, another deputy chairman who works as a spinal surgeon, said
that in a single operation to stabilize vertebrae, he receives “a third of the
radiation that an ordinary person gets during a whole year. If the Treasury
official negotiating with us were to get such radiation on the job, he wouldn’t
be willing to continue working. But such bureaucrats refuse to recognize us as
He urged his colleagues to stop agreeing to continue
the situation, as the radiation can lead to cancer in doctors.
doctors must be partners with hospital managers in the purchase of imaging and
radiation equipment, added Dr. Gabi Bartal, head of imaging at Meir Medical
Center in Kfar Saba, who also helped author American and European guidelines for
protecting doctors and patients in invasive radiology facilities.
noted that according to Israeli law, it is the Industry, Trade and Labor
Ministry that is responsible for protecting workers from radiation, but its
experts do not take vigorous action when there are violations in exposures, he
Interventional cardiologists who perform angioplasties and other
procedures with radiation are exposed every day to 60 to 200 minutes of
radiation, and protective measures are not enough, said
Physicians are supposed to wear “radiation badges” on the job to
measure how much radiation they are exposed to, but if the results are “too
high,” they are told to take a break, which means that they earn less. As a
result, said Bartal, numerous doctors take off the badges when they have to work
longer hours due to inadequate numbers of specialists on duty.
Ariel Roguin, a senior cardiologist at Rambam Medical Center, said that
epidemiological data already shows there are doctors who may have developed
hematological cancers, brain tumors, thyroid diseases and more cataracts as a
result of their exposure to radiation. Others complain of back pain due to
wearing heavy lead aprons to cover them when radiation is used.
studies have shown in recent years that a “significant number of physicians who
had brain tumors were affected on the side of their heads that was closest to
the radiation source,” he continued.
“We tend to accept radiation risks
as necessary or the price of working in the profession and to avoid thinking
about the problem. But protective equipment has not changed in two decades, and
radiation is also used much more frequently and for longer periods.
problem is that employers prefer to ignore the risks we face.”