New radiation protection trial shows incredible benefits for our cardiac cath lab colleagues

The cardiology department at Somerset FT is trialling a new piece of equipment, that will mean our cardiac cath lab nurses no longer need to wear a heavy lead apron to protect themselves from radiation during procedures.

The innovative ‘Rampart radiation protection screen’ was designed by a doctor in the United States for use in American hospitals, and we are the first NHS trust in England to use it.

It’s a fully adjustable and portable system that provides proven, full-bodied radiation protection for interventionalists and their technicians, all without having to work under heavy lead aprons.

Dr Mohammad Sahebjalal, one of our cardiology consultants, said: “The nature of working in a cardiac cath lab means colleagues are exposed to a level of radiation, and the current protective equipment we use is heavy, uncomfortable and causes musculoskeletal issues, such as back and muscle pain.

“When we bend down to pick up medical equipment there’s an inevitable strain on our back when we wear this heavy gear, which can lead to colleagues being off sick with chronic back problems.

“We tend to see colleagues come into the cardiac field when they are young, but then often tend to leave the profession because of the strain this equipment puts on their bodies.

“By adding the Rampart screen in our operating rooms, we not only increase our protection against radiation, but our colleagues no longer need to wear such heavy equipment to do their job.”

Charlotte Baker, senior sister on our cardiac cath lab, said she was thrilled that Somerset FT was the first NHS trust in England to trial this new equipment. “I’m sure the Rampart screen will have so many benefits for both our colleagues and patients,” she said.

“Early indications show that the screen is having a significant positive impact on our cath lab nurses, and we hope this will improve colleague sickness for muscle and back pain issues in the longer term.

“We have been taking live measurements of the radiation dosage we get, and we’ve found a reduction of 98 per cent, which is incredible.

“It’s even more impressive given that we are a relatively small cath lab - it really puts us on the map in the cardiology field.

“We’ve worked hard over the years to develop links with centres across the world, and as a forward-thinking cath lab we wanted to learn from our peers to help improve the working life of our colleagues.

“The role of a cath lab nurse is specialist in nature so we attract a specific type of person into the job, and the added protection given by the Rampart system should help with our retention and recruitment of colleagues.

“Once the trial ends, we will analyse the results before making a decision on purchasing the new kit for longer term use.”