July 23, 2006, 10:10 pm

Growing Pains


Okay, since I’m sending this post to Radiology Grand Rounds, I thought I’d give some props to those hard-working X-RAY techs.

You know who I mean.

Those hard running folks we expect to be in four places at once and have our CT results STAT even if the computer is down.

The ones who are eternally patient with us when we send our patients down to x-ray for a chest film wearing enough bling bling to buy Trump Towers.

The ones who have the power to clear a room just by yelling “X-RAY!”

The ones who can soothe a patient during a CT scan just by the sound of their voice over the speaker.

Just so you know, we in the ER appreciate you.

We just need to tell you more often.


I never thought I ‘d have anything to say about radiology.

In fact there is an old joke. I know it’s old because I made it up 28 years ago.

It goes: If I can see something wrong on your x-ray, you are very sick.

For you see, I cannot read films. I can find lungs.


I can see your hip, but unless the your femur is totally in two, with one of those pieces on the other side of the room, I may not see your fracture.

You get the picture, no pun intended.


Now this may be old hat to all you radiology-inclined folks, but we have a fantastic new system that has done away with the old x-ray film.

X-rays are now viewed at a central station where the doctor sits via a computer screen.

No more waiting for films to be developed and if the patient needs a copy of the x-ray, it can be placed on a CD that can be read on any computer.

This is good for two reasons:

  • Nurses have more access to the x-ray – we can look at it right along with the doctor at the station.
    • Often, the films were down off the viewer before the nurse had a chance to see them. I once worked at a teaching facility for ten weeks and I never saw an x-ray the entire time, as the viewers were out of sight of the nursing areas, and the nurses too busy to get in on the teaching being done.
    • Now nurses are not often required to read films, but we are able to order them in the ER. You can never have too much knowledge and familiarity with x-ray views can be an asset when assessing a patient, expecially with an extremity injury.
    • Increased exposure to the x-rays gives teaching opportunities that nurses did not have before. I had an opportunity to view an x-ray where the fracture went through the entire growth plate with dislocation. Amazing.
  • The images can be enhanced.
    • Think there might be a fracture, but not sure?
    • You can blow the area in question up as large as you need to to see it more clearly.

They say familiarity breeds contempt, but not where this nurse and x-rays are concerned.

I can now say with certainty that if I can see a problem on your x-ray, it means you have a problem on your x-ray and NOT that you are VERY sick.

That’s a good feeling.


  • […] Original post by // Emergiblog Blog Content Cloud & accessories another apple article back blog book business cell design first free good google home info ipod july know last life link little love market microsoft morning news night over part permanent phone photo photography photos pics pictures price sale school software sunday time very video week work world Search […]

  • DisappearingJohn

    July 24, 2006 at 9:09 am

    I have used your line (shamelessly stolen from an earlier mention) about “if I can see it…” many times..

    We also have a similar system for our images, where we can see Xrays, CT’s and MRI’s (but not ultrasounds…I wonder why)

    It is always great when one of our docs takes the time to show us what we are seeing…

    My favorite radiology report of all time was of a chest xray done on a patient in a halo brace. The rad tech had failed to remove the emergency release wrench from off of the brace before the xray, and the radiologist calmly said, “…and in the left upper lung field there appears to be a small crescent wrench, hopefully external to the patient…”

  • Sid Schwab

    July 24, 2006 at 11:22 am

    The digital technology is wonderful for all the reasons you mention. Also, saving enormous time shuffling through piles of film in the Xray dept.

    Not to mention allowing radiologists, already in a pretty cushy situation, to take call and read from home….

  • Flygal

    July 25, 2006 at 1:45 am

    X-rays are all around, because we deals with with devices which radiates somehow. We need strong protection.

  • scan man

    August 2, 2006 at 1:26 am

    ‘It’s even harder to be humble when you are a Radiologist’ 😉
    I met a trauma surgeon in the US who showed me a PowerPoint presentation on ER management of poly trauma intended for ER workers. One of the early slides was completely black with large bold white letters declaring ‘DEATH BEGINS IN X-RAY’.
    Good to see a senior ER Nurse who appreciates us poor guys.

  • steve

    September 20, 2006 at 7:56 am

    Over here in England, a lot of radiographers read plain films. I’ve been reporting musculoskeletal and chest films for 10 years. Must be doing ok haven’t been sued yet.

    Hard copy means reporting from films.
    Soft copy means reporting from computer images.

  • Ryan

    March 27, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! It is an eye-opening experience when another healthcare professional acknowledges the underdog. At least thats how we sometimes feel. Thank you, again!

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

Continue reading »

Find Me On...
Twitter     Technorati

Subscribe to Emergiblog

Office of the National Nurse

Zippy Was Here

Healthcare Blogger Code of Ethics

  • Perspective
  • Confidentiality
  • Disclosure
  • Reliability
  • Courtesy