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Communicating risk and benefit


MRTs provide patients and/or caregivers with an accurate description of procedures and associated risks in a truthful and comprehensible manner


+ Communication with the patient and/or caregivers

  • The CAMRT Code of Ethics directs MRTs to assist patients and/or caregivers in making informed decisions about care.1
  • Patient decisions and consent should be based on fact and a true representation of the benefits and risks of each procedure/treatment.
    • The significance of each procedure/treatment as part of their overall management and health should be explained to patients and/or caregivers
    • Patients and/or caregivers are made aware that the use of radiation in diagnostic imaging and radiation therapy is always designed to deliver benefit and minimize risks2


  • Explanations and answers to patient and/or caregiver questions should be comprehensive and accurate, and remain within the limits of an MRT's knowledge and authority/responsibility
    • Information that falls outside the limits of an MRT's knowledge and authority/responsibility is referred to the appropriate healthcare professional


  • Clear communication regarding benefit and risk is essential in ensuring understanding:2
    • Information is presented in a way that patients and/or caregivers can understand
    • Technical information is conveyed in clear, simple, everyday language (avoiding medical jargon)
    • Important ideas are emphasized and not lost in the discussion
    • Information is current and accurate
    • Information is presented in a structured and organized way


  • MRTs confirm patients and/or caregivers demonstrate comprehension of the information and allow patients the opportunity to ask questions and clarify concerns.

+ Interactive tools

  • The task of helping patients and/or caregivers to understand these concepts can be facilitated through the use of interactive tools.
  • is a useful aid for patient/caregiver education, as it provides:
    • Discussion of most available diagnostic and therapeutic procedures
    • In-depth explanations aimed at a patient audience
    • Important benefits and risks


  • In addition, there are some publicly available tools to help patients and/or caregivers understand abstract concepts like radiation dose (see Useful links).2
    • The risk calculator at is a useful tool to relate the concept of radiation dose as an equivalent amount of exposure to the natural background radiation

+ References

  1. Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists. Code of Ethics. Available at: Accessed March 27, 2013.
  2. Joint Task Force on Adult Radiation Protection. Image Wisely. How to Understand and Communicate Radiation Risk. Available at: Accessed March 21, 2013.

Related guidelines




October 16, 2013


Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists
85 Albert St, Suite 1000, Ottawa, ON, K1P 6A4
phone: 613 234-0012 / 800 463-9729
fax: 613 234-1097