MO-E-213-00: What Is Medical Physics Without Radiation Safety?



The focus of work of medical physicists in 1980's was on quality control and quality assurance. Radiation safety was important but was dominated by occupational radiation protection. A series of over exposures of patients in radiotherapy, nuclear medicine and observation of skin injuries among patients undergoing interventional procedures in 1990's started creating the need for focus on patient protection. It gave medical physicists new directions to develop expertise in patient dosimetry and dose management. Publications creating awareness on cancer risks from CT in early part of the current century and over exposures in CT in 2008 brought radiation risks in public domain and created challenging situations for medical physicists. Increasing multiple exposures of individual patient and patient doses of few tens of mSv or exceeding 100 mSv are increasing the role of medical physicists. Expansion of usage of fluoroscopy in the hands of clinical professionals with hardly any training in radiation protection shall require further role for medical physicists. The increasing publications in journals, recent changes in Safety Standards, California law, all increase responsibilities of medical physicists in patient protection. Newer technological developments in dose efficiency and protective devices increase percentage of time devoted by medical physicists on radiation protection activities. Without radiation protection, the roles, responsibilities and day-to-day involvement of medical physicists in diagnostic radiology becomes questionable. In coming years either medical radiation protection may emerge as a specialty or medical physicists will have to keep major part of day-to-day work on radiation protection.

Learning Objectives:

  • 1.To understand how radiation protection has been increasing its role in day-to-day activities of medical physicist
  • 2.To be aware about international safety Standards, national and State regulations that require higher attention to radiation protection than in past
  • 3.To be aware about possible emergence of medical radiation protection as a specialty and challenges for medical physicists.