Effective communication

5. Effective communication tips for radiographers / radiological technologists imaging Covid-19 positive/suspected patients

5.3. Step 3: Engage in a benefit-risk dialogue and establishing patient’s consent

  • In line with legal requirements in many countries, the radiographer / radiological technologist needs to also engage in a benefit-risk dialogue with the patient. This entails that:
    • The benefits of imaging are outlined, i.e. imaging can provide important information that will allow health professionals to deliver the most appropriate treatment and care to the patient at the right time.
    • The patient is made aware that the benefits of imaging are greater than the negligible risks associated with the radiation dose delivered for a chest X-ray (typically 0.02mSv, which is similar to about 3 days of background radiation).
  • The aim of the benefit-risk dialogue is to ensure that patients are appropriately informed and involved. In effect, a dialogue entails that communication occurs in both directions, so it is equally important that the radiographer / radiological technologist takes the time to stop and listen to the patient. This is essential in further establishing a good rapport with the patient as it provides an opportunity to be heard, have questions answered and/or concerns addressed.
  • As much as possible, the radiographer / radiological technologist should verify that the patient has understood the information and instructions provided. In effect, the radiographer / radiological technologist must ensure that the patient is agreeing to/consenting to having the X-ray examination performed.
  • It is important that radiographers / radiological technologists note that communication is also expected when patients are unresponsive and/or unconscious. When it is not possible to clearly seek and obtain consent from the patient directly, either due to an underlying medical condition, mental state or lack of competence, such consent is to be sought and obtained by a legal representative on the patient’s behalf.

(see also Radiation Protection during mobile chest radiography COVID-19 section)