Hi, my name is Pam Krieg. In the Level 3 NICU where I work I have shared both pain and joy with the parents of the babies I take care of. As the first children for whom I cared for 18 years ago want to start their own families, I worry about all those xrays we bombarded them with so many years ago. Will they be denied the joys of parenthood?
One of the most common tasks in a critical care unit is taking xrays. To protect ourselves we wear lead aprons and require others to stand back. I am frequently asked by parents "Why do you protect yourself but not my baby?" I usually respond with something about the low levels of radiation, or that I do this many times a day and that your baby will be okay.
The truth is, the babies are exposed to much more direct radiation than I am and many of the babies are subjected to dozens if not hundreds of xrays during their stay at the hospital.
The truth is, I do know that radiation has a cumulative effect on the body and that the most vulnerable parts of the body are the reproductive organs.
The truth is, I don't want to alarm the parents.
The real truth was, I didn't have anything to protect them. I searched high and low for a suitable product to use and found none. The smallest gonad shields found were far too large and heavy to place on these fragile bodies. Even JCAHO* has patient radiation safety standards in place that were not strictly enforced because there was not a suitable shield available. The solution, create my own, the result, the STG (Save the Gonads).
STG's, designed to be practical in both form and function, are available in three sizes; micropreemie, preemie and newborn. The protective lead shield's unique heart shape is not only pleasing but functional in that it protects the gonads without excessive weight. The heart is pointed down for use with girls and upward for boys.
For infection control the individually packaged STG's are covered with satin which is easily cleansed with alcohol and is reusable for a single patient. Economically priced, we recommend inclusion of the STG in admission packs.
Save the Gonads is part business and part crusade. Although we sometimes take a tongue-in-cheek attitude - evidenced by our company name, our product serves a very serious need. As professional caregivers, protecting young lives, now and for the future, is a serious responsibility. We must always be on the lookout for ways to improve our care, as well as, protect ourselves from the legal ramifications of failure to address safety concerns. Federal regulations specifically recommend the use of gonad shields when the gonads are subjected to xray radiation. Many states require them unless circumstance precludes their use.
Using STG's is an effective way to demonstrate your commitment to exceptional care and attention to detail that you provide for your patients.
*No endorsement by Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations is implied.
About the Hearts
The interlinked hearts represent the love shared by couples as they go arm-in-arm through life. Our need to share our lives is an important feature of being human. The most obvious way that couples share their lives is through the creation of new life . . . children. I chose this symbol because it reminds me of how important the ability to procreate will be in the future lives of those tiny infants we care for today.
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