Radiology Departments Rethink Anatomical Orientation Markers in the Age of COVID-19


With the global pandemic, there has been an increased demand for products to help protect against the spread of COVID-19. The most common being PPE, hand sanitizers, and disinfectants. 

Protocols have changed within healthcare facilities with more stringent guidelines on how to keep staff and patients safe.  

This also includes radiology where facilities are seeking single-patient use disposable to replace reusables when there is that option.  

Risk of carrying infection from room to room, patient to patient, and then home

One such example that was quickly adopted due to the high infection rate of COVID-19, is the use of disposable anatomical orientation x-ray markers to permanently identify “Right” or “Left” on patient images.   

While Beekley Medical’s disposable, single-use R & L Spot® markers have been available for many years, they were often used only in certain circumstances – for immune-suppressed or compromised patients, neonatal/newborn imaging, trauma cases, and burn units.  

Radiology staff would use permanent markers for all other patient types to permanently identify the right or left side of the body. Typically they were wiped down between patients before being placed next to a foot, arm, abdomen, or other body part. At the end of the day, the markers might even go home with the technologist. 

Single-patient use markers a better option for anatomical orientation in radiology 

However, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, radiology departments are realizing that permanent X-Ray markers which are carried around by the technologist throughout the day and used on multiple patients is not ideal and can present a health risk to both patients and staff. 

Disposable R & L Spot® markers have quickly become part of the infection control policy because it is only used on one patient and then disposed of. This helps reduce opportunistic and pathogenic bacteria that may be found on permanent markers. 

Customers share why disposable X-Ray markers are an essential part of their infection control measure during COVID-19

We reached out to customers who purchased R & L SPOT after the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard in the U.S. to share with us why the transition to single-use orientation markers has become part of their infection control protocols.

“Before COVID-19 we didn’t use disposable R & L Spot markers, but it only makes sense to use something disposable with a positive or presumptive positive patient. The most important reason to use disposable markers on these patients is so there is minimized risk of you carrying the virus from room to room and all over the hospital on our permanent markers. We wipe them down after every patient anyway but they’re in our pockets, next to our pens, our cell phones etc. 

It’s just better safe than sorry and helps eliminate the risk of spreading those germs. I’ve encouraged the staff to keep using them on potential flu cases as well, as we’re almost to that time of year.”  
    ~Diagnostic Imaging Center, Pendleton, OR

“Before Covid-19 I rarely used these markers. During the crisis these markers should be used to help prevent spreading infection. If I used my own lead markers, I would think they could be a fomite and I would not only spread this virus to my patient, I could spread it to my family. Disposable markers should be part of the new normal for patient and personnel care in a Radiology Department.”
    ~Lead Technologist, Kingston, NY

“We have used R & L Spot markers exclusively on portable chest x-rays on patients with symptoms on a single use basis, so we have increased the use tremendously. We are always conscious of cross -contamination by using the one time use only marker. We like having them readily available and don’t have to waste time looking to have to retrieve them when done with the exam, which, prolongs time spent in the room searching for markers.” 
    ~Imaging Manager, Leon, IA

Staff are very concerned using their own markers on infectious patients or potential COVID patients and were not using markers. They very much welcome the disposable markers which allows them to properly mark laterality on exams and be compliant in what is expected, in addition to maintaining safe practices.

"The most important reason to use disposable, one-time use R & L Spot markers are to help reduce the spread of infection to patients and staff. And staff love them! The disposable markers give them additional sense of protection during this unprecedented time during the pandemic.” 
    ~Administrative Director of Radiology Services, Ravenna, OH

“COVID-19 has definitely changed the use of disposable R & L Spot markers. We are currently using them with all patients. The most important reason is for the safety of our employees. Before COVID-19, our radiologists wanted our technologist initials on all radiographs, but now we are more focused on protecting our employees and patients. 

"We have a COVID-19 unit, it is imperative when we are doing portable x-rays, that we do not use the same markers from patient to patient. Sure, before the technologist would wipe down their own personal marker in between patients, then put the marker back in their pocket or tape it back to their name tag. This is no longer the case. 

Since we don’t know much about this virus, it’s just best not to re-use anything that has been used in any patient encounter. Especially, if it goes back to the department or home with you. I used to think that these disposable SPOTs we expensive, but they are really priceless, when it comes down to safety.”
    ~Radiology Manager, Richmond, TX 

“I would say we used disposable R & L markers even more now with COVID-19 as wiping down our personal markers is not considered our best route. We like that they are single-use, then throw away. Disposable is probably going to be the best route for the immediate future of marking films as I see going forward.”
~Imaging Manager, Fairfield, CA

The disposable R & L SPOT® markers have aided in the fight against Covid-19 by way of single usage. This allows us to toss them after use when we do COVID or possible COVID patients. We have a room that has been set aside for such patients and that is where they are utilized the most. The most important reason for using these markers is to cut down on the any contamination or spread of the virus.”
~Technologist, Lancaster, CA

If your imaging center is looking for ways to reduce the risk of infection in radiology, call 1-800-233-5539 or email to purchase or request samples of the R&L SPOT® disposable x-ray markers, for a quote or to request samples. 

Melissa Vibberts

Melissa Vibberts

Director of Brand Management

Subscribe to BeekSpeak