American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Radiation Safety for the SLP

SLPs who perform videofluoroscopic swallowing studies (VFSS) must protect themselves from radiation exposure. Excessive exposure to radiation has been linked to harmful health effects, including cancer and birth defects. SLPs need to educate themselves about the risks of radiation exposure, as well as precautions to reduce exposure. Unfortunately, many SLPs do not receive appropriate training about their own risks and how to minimize them, as well as how to minimize risks to their patients. This page contains links to important resources and articles about radiation principles and radiation safety.

ASHA Policy Documents

Guidelines for SLPs Performing Videofluoroscopic Swallowing Studies. See page 87 for a discussion of radiation safety and radiation principles.

ASHA Special Interest Division 13 Articles

Earn ASHA CEUs through self-study of these articles and more.

Joint Commission

The list of sentinel events subject to review by Joint Commission has been expanded to include radiation overdose, which is defined as "prolonged fluoroscopy with a cumulative dose of more than 1500 rads to a single field or any delivery of radiotherapy to the wrong body region or more than 25 percent above the planned radiotherapy dose." A sentinel event is an unexpected occurrence involving death or serious physical or psychological injury, or the risk thereof.

Additional Internet Resources

American College of Radiology Guidelines for the Adult MBS

Health Physics Society Q&A Regarding Pregnant SLPs and Radiation Exposure

Pregnancy and Medical Radiation [PDF]

Additional Articles

Crawley, M.T., Savage. P., & Oakley, F. (2004). Patient and operator dose during fluoroscopic examination of swallow mechanism. British Journal of Radiology, 77 (920), 654-656.

International Commission on Radiological Protection. (2000). Pregnancy and medical radiation. Annals of ICRP, 30 (1), 1-43. Available online .

Smart, R.C. (1997). What are the risks of diagnostic medical radiation? Medical Journal of Australia, 166 (11), 589-591.

Timins, J.K. (2001). Radiation during pregnancy. New Jersey Medicine, 98 (6), 29-33.

Toppenberg, K.S., Hill, D.A, & Miller, D.P. (1999). Safety of Radiographic Imaging During Pregnancy. American Family Physician, 59 (7), 1813-1818.

Wright, R.E.R., Boyd, C.S., Workman, A. (1998). Radiation Doses to Patients During Pharyngeal Videofluoroscopy. Dysphagia, 13 , 113-115.

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