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What Does an X-Ray Machine Operator Do?

An X-ray machine.
A healthcare professional reviewing an X-ray.
An X-ray of a hand.
Article Details
  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 10 April 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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The average X-ray machine operator, first and foremost, has to know how to properly use the equipment necessary to produce X-ray images of the inside of the body. There are, however, other duties that typically are required in this job. For example, machine operators also typically have to prepare patients for each appointment, which may involve discussing what will occur during the visit, properly using the machinery to obtain images, and following safety protocols to reduce radiation exposure. What patients may not know is that machine operators also usually prepare before each patient's visit, because they are expected to clean and maintain the machinery. After each visit, they usually consult with a patient's doctor and file away the results.

It is the job of an X-ray machine operator to prepare patients for this procedure while ensuring they are safe. For example, he might discuss with each patient the reason for the X-ray, because this tends to help people feel more at ease in the doctor's office. The equipment operator typically also has to consult patient records to find out which body parts to X-ray during the appointment. An additional responsibility is to set the machinery to the right settings, because it needs to take clear images while producing minimal radiation when possible. The typical X-ray machine operator also usually is expected to correctly examine and read the X-rays.

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In most cases, there is a fair amount of work that may occur behind the scenes, typically before patients arrive and after they leave. For example, when there are no patients to examine, an X-ray machine operator usually is supposed to ensure that the equipment is clean and ready to use for the next appointment. He also should perform routine tests to make sure the machine is operating correctly, because a machine that produces inaccurate results can be a serious problem. If equipment seems to be malfunctioning, the X-ray machine operator usually is expected to let his supervisor know so it can be fixed quickly.

Once patients leave the exam room, X-ray machine operators typically have additional work to do. In most cases, the first duty is to correctly place the results in the patient's medical file. The next step often is to let the patient's regular doctor know about the results, good or bad, because this can ensure that the proper medical care is administered as quickly as possible. In most cases, an X-ray machine operator is instructed to avoid talking to patients about the results, a task that falls to the patient's doctor.

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