Background: Dentists should accompany referrals with good quality, suitably diagnostic radiographic imaging that enables the referral to be triaged effectively. This will minimise radiation exposure necessitated by repeat radiographs. The use of radiographs for dental, oral and maxillofacial applications is controlled by Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations (2000) in the UK. All radiographs must be justified and reported in the patient’s notes and referral letter and a quality assurance programme must be established. The aim of this study was to evaluate the availability of good quality imaging with new patient referrals.
Methods : Prospective analysis was carried out over a two-month period on referral documentation to assess if imaging was provided and whether it was diagnostically sufficient.
Results : 133 new referrals were analysed. 50 (38%) included a radiograph. The majority of imaging was on CD, film or paper printouts. 60% of these (30 referrals) were deemed unsatisfactory due to poor quality, inappropriate anatomical area imaged or being out of date. These patients required further imaging, usually with orthopantomogram.
Conclusions : There is lack of compliance with IR(ME)R regulations and practitioners should be made aware of the legal requirement to provide good quality radiographs when possible. Key words : referral; radiograph; radiation exposure