Medical radiation: uses, dose measurements and safety advice published


UPDATED guidance on medical radiation risks and safety advice has been published with the help of IPEM members.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has published the collection entitled ‘Medical radiation: uses, dose measurements and safety advice’.

It covers amongst other advice and guidance the new “User guidance and national coding taxonomy for incident learning in clinical imaging, magnetic resonance imaging and nuclear medicine”.

IPEM members Aida Hallam and Claire Skinner were IPEM representatives on the initial multidisciplinary working party set up by the Clinical Imaging Board to address the need for a national reporting and learning system intended to analyse and learn from incidents in diagnostic imaging, MRI and nuclear medicine in the UK. The findings of that working party were published in June 2019 by the Royal College of Radiologists in ‘Learning from ionising radiation dose errors, adverse events and near misses in UK clinical imaging departments’

It proposed an error coding taxonomy and user guidance to support the UK clinical imaging community to develop local systems for reporting and analysing diagnostic and nuclear medicine ionising radiation incidents. The report also made a number of recommendations, including the establishment of a multidisciplinary steering group to develop this work to a national level, which was taken forward by UKHSA. 

Patient pathway

The Medical Exposures Group (MEG) in UKHSA set up a new multidisciplinary working party in 2022 and Dr Hallam, Head of Radioisotope Physics at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Miss Skinner, Head of Radiological Physics and Radiation Safety at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, were invited to represent IPEM on it.

The working party reviewed the initial system to mirror the patient pathway from referral to reporting, rather than focussing on IR(ME)R duty holders. The coding taxonomy was expanded to include the modalities of MRI and molecular radiotherapy and the associated guidance was further developed to explain how to classify incidents and ‘near miss’ events.

Dr Hallam and Miss Skinner acted as conduits between the working party and IPEM’s Radiation Protection, Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine Special Interest Groups (SIGs) on the progress of the work being made and also fed back comments and recommendations from the SIGs.

They are now both involved in helping to make sure the clinical community are made aware of the guidance and also ensuring staff start use the guidance to code incidents and near misses.

Dr Anna Barnes, IPEM’s President, said: ‘It is so important for both patient and staff safety to keep guidance on radiation risks up to date and it is vital the clinical community are made aware of such advice.

‘I would like to thank Aida and Claire and all those members of the various Special Interest Groups they liaised with to help produce this guidance in this critical area.’

Medical radiation: uses, dose measurements and safety advice