In its haste to provide vaccination direction, the government has mistakenly overlooked the fact that chest x-rays and other medical imaging studies are the first point of medical contact in diagnosing Covid-19 patients. Including radiology with opticians, podiatry, holistic care, and massage therapy underlines the degree of the oversight that must be immediately addressed.
The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force has not recognised radiology clinic physicians and medical imaging technologists as a higher priority part of Ontario’s vaccination prioritization program plan despite:
- Several documented COVID-19 exposure events in X-ray clinics occurred in the first wave.
- COVID-19 patients with respiratory symptoms are often referred to radiology clinics for chest X-rays.
- Patients with undefined abdominal pain are sent to ultrasound clinics. Some have COVID-19.
- Government correctly recognized the risk to medical imaging in hospitals but has failed to understand that there is also increased risk to medical imaging out of hospitals.
- Medical imaging is often the first physical point of contact between patients with an undiagnosed COVID-19 and the health care system. Medical imaging workers are at increased risk.
Ontario’s Radiologists and medical radiation/ultrasound Technologists and staff provides:
- 25 million radiology patient care services annually in Ontario
- 50% are provided in Ontario’s publicly funded outpatient radiology and nuclear medicine clinics
- Radiologists and technologists are directly involved in doing procedures on patients, physically positioning patients and having prolonged, direct contact every day with patients
- Services include general x-ray, ultrasound, mammography, nuclear medicine, fluoroscopy, CT, MRI and biopsies
Immediate action is required to protect front line staff.
Please urge the Premier, the Health Minister and the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force to include radiology clinic physicians, imaging technologists and staff in the Phase 1 vaccination prioritization program plan to protect them and their patients.