Aims Children undergoing radiological investigations for child protection are exposed to radiation. Good communication is vital if the child is to be properly and safely investigated. A requirement of obtaining informed consent for these investigations is to understand and be able to explain the risk / benefit of the procedures. We aim to identify how this is carried out nationwide and discuss attitudes and practice around full informed consent in child protection imaging.
Methods We carried out an online survey of all paediatric doctors in the UK. The survey was advertised in the RCPCH Wales e-bulletin and the RCPCH Health Policy bulletin.
Results From Wales and England, 61 paediatric doctors completed the survey. Of which, 44% of responders were consultants. Consent is taken for radiological imaging by 67%. Verbal consent only is taken by 58%. Only 36% provide information on the radiation exposure caused by the radiological imaging. Despite this, 80% of responders thought it was important to explain the radiation risk of doing such investigations.
Conclusion Although paediatricians consider it important to explain the risk/benefit of radiological procedures for child protection imaging, less than half undertake full written informed consent with fewer consenting for specific radiation exposure risks. Is this reluctance to take full informed consent due to a fear of not gaining consent, due to a lack of understanding about radiation doses or not knowing how to present this information to parents/carers? We present information on radiation doses from different radiological images and propose a dose counselling model to help doctors overcome these challenges.
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