ORSIF Documentary Featuring Noted Heart Surgeon Dr. Edward Diethrich Tells Personal Story of Serious Health Risks from Occupational Exposure to Radiation in Fluoroscopy Labs

Highlights occupational health risks impacting a growing number of physicians, staff

May 06, 2015, 09:00 ET from ORSIF

WASHINGTON, May 6, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The Organization for Occupational Radiation Safety in Interventional Fluoroscopy (ORSIF) today announced the release of a new documentary film to focus widespread attention on the impact that chronic, low-level exposure to ionizing radiation has on physicians that practice interventional medicine in fluoroscopy labs. The documentary features noted heart surgeon Dr. Edward Diethrich, founder of the Arizona Heart Foundation.

Dr. Diethrich experienced several health issues directly linked to radiation exposure, including cataracts in both eyes and dense, calcific plaque in his carotid artery. What impacted his career as a surgeon however, was a diagnosis of an oligodendroglioma – a brain tumor.

Referring to his work as an endovascular surgeon, Diethrich notes in the documentary: "When we started doing these procedures, nobody questioned what we did. The last thing I was thinking about was how much radiation am I exposed to. Being a doctor, my whole motive was to help the patient get well. I didn't think about the hazardous conditions."

Interventional procedures performed in close proximity to radiation sources, such as coronary angioplasty and vascular surgery, as well as those under the electrophysiology and interventional neurology medical specialties, pose an on-going health risk for fluoroscopy lab employees. In addition, serious orthopedic and musculoskeletal health issues are common among physicians and staff as a result of the heavy, traditional lead-lined protective gear worn in fluoroscopy labs.

"Dr. Diethrich communicates a very powerful message in this video, which is that hospital administrators, staff, and regulators need to do a better job of recognizing this hidden hazard and understanding the serious health risks linked to occupational radiation exposure.  A collaborative effort is needed as we work together toward creating safer work environments for those professionals whose primary focus is saving the lives of others," stated Michael Seymour MS, MPH, CIH, ORSIF Director of Advocacy Programs.

Dr. Diethrich, who has undergone treatment for his tumor, describes himself as "a living example of excessive radiation and what it can do to tissue," adding, "I think I felt this radiation cannot hurt me. I felt indestructible. Obviously, I didn't know what I was talking about," he added.

The complete video can also be accessed at https://youtu.be/rXgt0bF3GJM.


The Organization for Occupational Radiation Safety in Interventional Fluoroscopy (ORSIF) raises awareness of the health risks of occupational ionizing radiation exposures and associated musculoskeletal risks occurring in interventional fluoroscopy laboratories. ORSIF develops support for medical professionals and hospitals for new and better ways to create the safest possible work environment for those dedicated to the wellness of others. ORSIF is composed of members from industry, physicians and staff from interventional fluoroscopy labs and will partner with other physician, staff and hospital associations, academic institutions,  and government bodies. The organization's website is www.orsif.org.

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