Did you know? Unprotected hands in radiographs are not only a hazard to your team’s health, they could cost you your hospital’s accreditation (yes, really). 

Mandatory standard MA15 states: “Practice team members wear protective apparel including aprons, gloves, and thyroid shields while in the X-ray suite during exposure.” It is important to remember those mandatory standards are just that, and not meeting them also means your practice will not achieve accreditation.

Here are some important lessons and tips from AAHA members and the staff at AAHA HQ that will keep your team safe and your accredited status intact:

Live and Learn

  • After not passing the digital imaging section of their first evaluation, one practice shared the action steps they implemented with their practice consultant. These steps included purchasing and using proper protective apparel, reeducating the entire hospital team (including providing follow-up sessions for doctors and technicians), and creating signage to remind employees to remove their hands from all X-rays. When the practice consultant returned for the reevaluation, the hospital easily achieved accreditation.
  • A preaccredited practice did not achieve accreditation due to unprotected hands noted in radiographs. When the practice consultant returned to perform a second evaluation, the owner shared that the first evaluation provided an opportunity for the team to revisit their radiation safety protocols. The practice did achieve accreditation the second time around and now takes radiation safety very seriously!

Tips and Tricks

  • At AAHA, we encourage practices to perform hands-free radiography techniques as often as possible. To help your team get started, check out the hands-free positioning video from the American Association of Veterinary Radiologists at
  • A large veterinary teaching facility with hundreds of team members came up with a unique way of identifying the individual who took a specific radiograph should questions or concerns arise: Each employee involved in radiology gets a set of left and right markers with their initials on them. They have found this to be extremely helpful, especially with such a large staff.
  • Quickly identify and correct safety issues by appointing a member of your team to review all radiographs. This will ensure that your practice is staying on top of best practices—and staying safe.
  • Invest in safety training for your entire team. Resources that cover veterinary-specific occupational hazards, including radiation safety, can be found at The AAHA Business Insurance Program ( also offers free safety posters.
  • Unable to perform hands-free radiology techniques? Try using a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe and intravenous (IV) tubing to pull a patient’s limb into position and keep hands away from the primary beam. Run the tubing through the PVC pipe, make a noose-type loop, and run the tubing back through the pipe. A properly protected technician can then grab the patient’s limb with the noose end while holding the pipe and tubing.

Have a radiation safety tip to share? We’d love to hear from you! Email AAHA’s Member Experience Team at [email protected]

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The Standard of Veterinary Excellence ®
American Animal Hospital Association | Copyright © 2014
Privacy Statement | Contact Us