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Lead aprons can lead to pain for health care workers: study

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Rochester, MN – Health care workers who wear lead aprons for protection in radiology departments and interventional laboratories such as cardiac catheterization labs face a higher risk of musculoskeletal pain, indicates a recent study from the Mayo Clinic.

Researchers surveyed nearly 2,700 workers in the clinic’s cardiology and radiology departments about use of protective equipment and medical conditions. Workers who had to wear a lead apron had more job-related pain and sought medical treatment for pain more often than workers who were not exposed to radiation, according to the researchers. Pain was more likely to be reported by women, workers exposed to radiation more frequently and those who wore a lead apron more often. Workers who experienced pain the most often were technicians (62 percent), nurses (60 percent), attending physicians (44 percent) and trainees (19 percent).

Procedure time should be limited and ergonomics should be regularly evaluated to help relieve pain, researchers said in a press release.

The study was published Feb. 23 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.