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Diagnostic radiographer: Job description

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Diagnostic radiographers use x-ray machines, ultrasound machines and other forms of imaging technology to examine patients.

They are responsible for acquiring the image and may interpret the images to diagnose illnesses and injuries. They can contribute towards establishing treatment plans and may also be involved in intervention procedures, for example the removal of kidney stones.

Diagnostic radiographers have a patient care role and work in a variety of hospital departments, including the operating theatre, accident and emergency and on wards. They therefore work closely with a wide range of patients and other healthcare professionals.

The amount of time and type of contact they have with patients depends on the specialist area they work in.

Typical work activities

Some of the imaging technologies that a diagnostic radiographer uses will include:

  • digital x-ray systems and computers - for looking through tissue to examine bones, organs, cavities and foreign objects;
  • fluoroscopy - creates real-time images to show movement such as swallowing action after a stroke;
  • angiography - takes x-rays of blood vessels to show blockages and then uses minimally invasive surgery to open up blockages;
  • computerised tomography (CT) - creates images of cross-sections of the body using x-rays;
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - builds a 2D or 3D map of different tissue types within the body using magnetism;
  • ultrasound - produces images using high frequency sound;
  • radio nuclide imaging (nuclear medicine) - uses radioisotopes to show how the body and organs function.

Tasks often involve:

  • assessing patients and their clinical requirements to determine appropriate radiographic techniques;
  • performing a range of radiographic examinations on patients to produce high-quality images;
  • observing and maintaining contact with patients during their waiting, examination and post-examination stay in the department;
  • taking responsibility for radiation safety in your work area including checking equipment for malfunctions/errors, managing referrals to ensure patients receive a radiation dose as low as reasonably possible and safely supervising visiting staff and patients in radiation work areas;
  • assisting in more complex radiological examinations working with doctors such as radiologists and surgeons;
  • providing support and reassurance to patients, taking into account their physical and psychological needs;
  • paying close attention to detail, such as annotating images correctly, to prevent errors and completing documentation quickly and accurately;
  • supervising assistant practitioners, students and other staff, and delivering appropriate education and training;
  • understanding and observing health and safety at work and welfare issues, including ionising radiation regulations, to protect yourself and others.

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Written by AGCAS editors
November 2014

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