Medicolegal responsibilities for the administration of intravenous contrast media by radiographers: Radiologists’ perspectives

G G V Koch, L D Swindon, J D Pillay


Background. Global trends in the delivery of healthcare services have placed tremendous strain on resources, among them human and capital. With this has emerged the need to revisit the job requirements and/or scope of practice of cadres within a profession, to ensure adequate training where needed. The administration of intravenous contrast media (IVCM), a fundamental element of expertise within the radiology field, is an example of such evolution in South Africa (SA). Currently falling within radiologists’ scope of practice, it has become necessary for radiographers to extend their own scope to include this skill, owing to the national shortage of radiologists and subsequent service delivery constraints, as well as the need to close the gap with international trends. 

Objective. To provide a synopsis of the perspectives of radiologists on the medicolegal responsibilities related to the administration of IVCM by radiographers. 

Methods. A quantitative, descriptive, cross-sectional research design was conducted, targeting qualified radiologists in KwaZulu-Natal Province (KZN). An online questionnaire was administered through SurveyMonkey that provided information on the medicolegal responsibilities associated with the administration of IVCM. 

Results. Of a total of 97 qualified radiologists in KZN, a response rate of 48.5% (n=47) was obtained. The majority of respondents felt that radiographers should be responsible for obtaining informed patient consent (66.0%), and deciding on the site of IVCM administration (72.3%). It was also felt that the radiologists should remain responsible for decisions regarding the type and dose of IVCM (87.2%) and managing the possible complications and adverse reactions due to the administration of IVCM (78.7%). 

Conclusion. Evidence-based research provides a contextualised approach towards addressing transformation in service delivery and training needs. This study, in demonstrating the importance of appropriate medicolegal responsibilities in the extension of a professional role, forms a basis for informing the future training of radiographers in SA.

Authors' affiliations

G G V Koch, Department of Radiography, Faculty of Health Sciences, Durban University of Technology, South Africa

L D Swindon, Department of Radiography, Faculty of Health Sciences, Durban University of Technology, South Africa

J D Pillay, Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Durban University of Technology, South Africa

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South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 2018;11(2):60-65. DOI:10.7196/SAJBL.2018.v11i2.632

Article History

Date submitted: 2018-11-30
Date published: 2018-11-30

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