Celebrating and Protecting Women in the Cath Lab

March 8, 2024, marks the 113th International Women’s Day, a moment each year to celebrate progress and reflect on women’s achievements around the world. It’s also a chance to reinvigorate our support for women’s and girl’s rights as fundamental to a just, prosperous, and healthy global society. This year’s theme is “Inspire Inclusion.” At Radiaction Medical, this theme aligns neatly with an issue we confront regularly: the unique experience of female interventional cardiologists, electrophysiologists, and other women caregivers who share their daily workspaces with fluoroscopic scatter radiation. They’ve been underrepresented in these fields for decades, whether due to their legitimate concerns about scatter radiation’s potential to harm unborn children or due to the unfounded, outdated fears of administrative gatekeepers. After nearly a decade of developing revolutionary technology to protect everyone in the cath lab, we believe there’s never been a better time to invest in women and the diverse perspectives, skills, and talent they bring to interventional cardiology and any specialty where radiation helps diagnose and treat patients.

It’s comforting to know that recent studies show current protective gear and practices provide babies in utero with excellent protection from dangerous radiation, and no related health problems have been reported in children born to cath lab workers. But this fact is not sufficiently known -- not among the young women considering careers in the field, nor the educators, administrators, and senior physicians who often set the tone on these issues. In rare cases, women physicians are barred from certain specialties or procedures due to misguided beliefs. 

Though it protects fetuses well, shielding apparel can still cause problems for the wearer — mostly long-term orthopedic stress injuries and inconvenience due to weight and bulk. However, it’s a very exciting time in the history of scatter radiation protection, as awareness of the problem is rapidly increasing along with the importance of following strict safety protocols, monitoring workers’ radiation doses, and standardizing continuous education for all involved.

Eventually, new understanding and new technologies will come to the rescue. We are within a few percentage points of creating a 100% radiation-risk-free cath lab environment without wearable protection — but we are not there yet. More and smarter investments, both financial and educational, will accelerate progress toward helping attract and retain more women in the field, increasing diversity and reducing turnover rates.

At Radiaction Medical, we stand proudly at the forefront of this global movement. We’re also especially pleased to contribute to an industry dedicated to ensuring that the next generation of women in medicine can fulfill their career dreams with confidence and clarity.

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