Illinois facility fined after nurses operated X-ray machines

In Illinois, not all medical professionals can operate X-ray equipment or other types of equipment involving the use of radiation. Under state laws, only those who are properly licensed including dentists, chiropractors, and certified radiologic technologists can safely use and operate radiologic equipment.

These laws are meant to protect patients in the Chicago area and throughout the entire state of Illinois from being overexposed to medical radiation. Overexposure to radiation as a result of a medical professional’s mistake could cause a patient to suffer serious injuries or a wrongful death.

Although there have been no reports of patients suffering injuries from possible overexposure to radiation at Rush SurgiCenter, the Illinois outpatient facility has been fined for violating regulations regarding the use of radiologic equipment. The violation is considered to be serious.

The Chicago Tribune reported last week that two nurses at Rush SurgiCenter have been fined $500 each by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency for using X-ray equipment that they were not licensed to use. The outpatient facility was also fined $2,000.

An administrator at Rush SurgiCenter claims that the facility carefully monitors radiation levels in order to prevent overexposure to radiation. But in November, a complaint was filed with the state Emergency Management Agency by one of the facility’s employees who said that he had witnessed two different nurses within the past year using equipment that only licensed medical professionals are allowed use.

The nurses had allegedly been asked by other physicians to press a button on a machine that emits radiation to patients during fluoroscopy procedures. However, if the X-ray machines are not operated properly during these types of procedures, patients could suffer radiation-induced burns or radiation-induced cancer. Rush SurgiCenter said that it has taken action to prevent other nurses and unlicensed staff from using radiologic equipment at its facility.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “Outpatient facility, nurses fined over improper X-ray machine use,” Deborah L. Shelton, Mar. 21, 2012

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