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Sometimes, The Job Is A Pain In The Neck

May 6, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Practice Management
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It’s not enough that you have to know about radiology. Now you have to learn about ergonomics as well.

Or at least someone in your office ought to pay attention to it. Neglecting work-space ergonomics might lead to neck pain, lower back pain, wrist pain, shoulder pain, and headaches, according to a study presented this week at the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) annual meeting in San Diego.

Anand M. Prabhakar, MD, lead author of the study, said:

Over the past decade, radiologists’ workloads have increased dramatically.

You probably didn’t need a study to tell you that.

“As a result,” Dr. Prabhakar continued, “more time is being spent in front of computer workstations. Although there has been a lot of attention paid to computer ergonomics in other industries, as well as for the general public, there has not been a lot of emphasis on exploring how ergonomic issues affect radiologists.”

The researchers gave a written questionnaire to 28 randomly selected radiologists in a single radiology department at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Of the respondents, 96 percent had two or three computer monitors at their workstations. Only 7.2 percent of the respondents said they felt fine.

Among the maladies reported by the other 92.8 percent were: neck pain (42.8 percent), lower back pain (29.2 percent), headaches (32.1 percent), shoulder pain (32.1 percent), and wrist pain (7.4 percent).

“Work-related musculoskeletal symptoms are common in radiologists working in a digital environment,”” said Dr. Prabhakar, a clinical fellow in abdominal imaging at Massachusetts General. “Most radiologists make some effort to alter workstation ergonomics; however, it is usually insufficient.”

Dr. Prabhakar called for research into better workstation designs for radiologists. Now, if only somebody could do something about those workloads . . .

Related Seminar: The Business of Radiology

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