Ergonomic Monitor Placement: Reducing Strain for Radiologists?

women side profile viewing scans on screens


Monitor placement can play a significant role in a radiologist's comfort and efficiency. Today, we'll explore how optimizing monitor placement can alleviate stress and improve outcomes. 


Let's begin. 


RedRick Technologies is one of the leading innovators in developing ergonomic workspaces specialized for healthcare professionals. We craft carefully designed workstations, monitor mounting solutions, accessories, and peripherals. It's our job to find solutions to the common issues facing health professionals today, including radiologists who spend countless hours at their workstations, facing continued and repetitive strains. When health professionals begin to struggle with their health, it has a direct impact on those who depend on them. This is why we search for innovative solutions.  


Curious about our products? We do not need a catalog – all our workstations are developed to fit your specific qualifications.  

According to the Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences, radiologists face threatening physical effects due to their line of work, including heart disease, hypertension, headaches, back pain, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), and overall fatigue. 


One of the best ways to prevent physical strains is to optimize radiology workstations with ergonomics at the top of mind. Today, we’ll focus on the importance of monitor placement and the importance of an ergonomic workstation.  


Radiologists require monitors as a part of their workstation setup. They can spend what feels like countless hours looking at screens, leading to various forms of physical strain from eye strain to neck strain. An optimized workstation should allow for not only multiple monitors to be present but also for proper height setup with the ideal focal distance between the mouse and keyboard. 


The Importance of Proper Monitor Placement in an Ergonomic Workstation 

When it comes to reducing risks for radiologists, proper monitor placement is essential for reducing the potential risk of strain. Radiologists spend extended periods analyzing medical images, which puts their eyes and bodies at risk for significant strain.


Radiologists spend many hours staring at computer monitors, which has a particularly detrimental impact on the eyes. Improper monitor placement and practices can cause ocular hazards, such as computer vision syndrome. Computer vision syndrome, also known as digital eye strain, refers to a collection of eye and vision-related issues caused by prolonged exposure to computer screens, tablets, and cell phone use.   


The most notable symptoms of CVS or digital eyestrain include: 

  • Eyestrain 

  • Headaches 

  • Blurred vision 

  • Dry eyes 

  • Neck and shoulder pain 

These symptoms may be caused by: 

  • Poor lighting 

  • Glare on a digital screen 

  • Improper viewing distances 

  • Poor seating posture 

  • Uncorrected vision problems 

  • A combination of these factors 


The severity of the symptoms depends on the individual’s visual abilities and the amount of time spent looking at a screen. Radiologists who already suffer from vision problems such as farsightedness and astigmatism, as well as eye-focusing or eye-coordination abilities or eye-aging issues such as presbyopia, can experience worse CVS symptoms. 


Potential Risks of Working in a Non-optimized, Ergonomic Workstation 

Several risks come with working in a workstation that isn’t optimized for the long hours of reviewing medical imaging that radiologists face every day. Some of the potential risks include:  


Musculoskeletal Strain 

Prolonged periods of sitting in an awkward position or completing repetitive movements without the right support cause musculoskeletal strain. According to Biomed Central, computer users such as radiologists are particularly susceptible to developing musculoskeletal strain because they work long hours analyzing medical images on computers.  


Increased Risk of Injury 

If radiologists don't have the proper ergonomic support, they're at a far higher risk of developing repetitive strain injuries (also known as RSIs) or even acute injuries caused by poor posture and inadequate workstation support.  


RSIs refer to a gradual buildup of damage incurred by the muscles, tendons, and nerves caused by repetitive motion. Repetitive strain injuries can include carpal tunnel, bursitis, and rotator cuff tendonitis.  

These conditions might not seem like a "big deal" to some, but repeating these injuries can not only be painful, but it can impact overall well-being and lower efficiency. Many of these injuries can be caused to the neck due to poor monitor support.  


Burnout and Fatigue 

Dealing with chronic discomfort and pain from an unoptimized workstation can contribute to overall burnout and fatigue in radiologists. This can lead to decreased job satisfaction, decreased quality of patient care, and increased turnover rates within radiology departments. 

Optimizing your workstation monitors and mitigating injury 


Eye-level Positioning 

Optimal monitor placement must be positioned at eye level or slightly below to promote a more natural neck position. This eliminates the possibility of excessive strain on the neck muscles from having to look up or down for prolonged periods. There are other factors to consider, such as if you wear bifocals, you may need to position the monitor below eye level.  

If you extend your neck backward when viewing the screen, then you know the monitor likely isn't low enough.  


You also want to make sure your monitor(s) are at least an arm's length away or calculate the ideal distance using a monitor size/distance equation


Before you move forward with getting a customized, ergonomic workstation, consider consulting an eye care professional to help identify what focal distance could be most appropriate for you. It could be the difference between you and your health.  


If you notice neck pain caused by consistently twisting your neck, consider keeping your monitor directly in front of you and in line with your keyboard. If you're working with multiple monitors, prioritize your primary monitor by aligning it directly with you. You can position secondary monitors next to the main screen on either side to reduce neck twisting. 


An ergonomic monitor setup also needs to be adjustable in terms of angle and tilt to prioritize different viewing preferences. 


wide desk with multiple computer screens


Dual Monitor Setup 

Radiologists often need more than one monitor to view multiple images simultaneously, and luckily, having multiple monitors can be beneficial.  

As mentioned previously, placing monitors side by side allows not only for easier comparison, but also reduces the need for excessive head, neck, or eye movement, reducing the risk of strain.  


For radiologists, who need to be able to detect abnormalities both big and small, minimizing strain (especially on the eyes) is essential.  


Reducing Glare and Reflections 

An ergonomic monitor setup must be positioned away from windows or other sources of direct light to minimize the potential for glare and reflections on the screen. Glare can cause serious eye strain over time and can make it even more difficult to notice important details in medical images.  


According to a study conducted by Talia Vertinsky, MD, 65.4% of 416 radiologists and radiology residents had a prevalence of CVS. Considering modern-day radiologists need to spend long hours inspecting important medical imaging, reducing eye strain is essential. 


Ergonomic Furniture 

In tandem with monitor placement, it's important to also implement ergonomic furniture such as adjustable desks and chairs to help support proper posture. This helps support the body during long reading sessions. For example, a sit-to-stand desk provides the ability to move into better, more comfortable positions during long hours and helps eliminate the potential risk of physical strain and discomfort, improving overall efficiency.  


Other Light Sources and Considerations 

Optimal lighting in open reading spaces can be tailored to individual preferences using small desk lamps, effectively mitigating unnecessary eye strain. Additionally, the utilization of blue-light filtering spectacle lenses has been demonstrated in prior research to further alleviate eye fatigue. To address noise disturbances in communal reading areas, professionals recommend utilizing room dividers equipped with sound-absorbing materials whenever possible. Noise-canceling headphones can also be advantageous in managing distractions. 


Radiologists provide countless patients with diagnoses required to develop comprehensive and tailored treatment plans by offering their unique insight into the human body. With their help, they help patients improve their overall health, and even save lives. Their role is essential when it comes to patient care behind the scenes, so making sure they're well taken care of and healthy themselves is just as important as their work. Studies have shown that radiologists struggle with mental and physical health issues that are directly caused by the essential work they do, so they need all the support available at their disposal.  


In Conclusion 

By implementing an ergonomic workstation with an optimized monitor setup, radiologists can better maintain their health, wellbeing, and productivity for years to come. If you're interested as a business or individual in investing in an ergonomic workstation setup to help mitigate these risks, see RedRick Technologies for more details.  



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