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Experts Examine Radiation’s Impact On Patients

Experts examine radiation’s impact on patients at UN gathering

17 October 2008 – A United Nations atomic energy meeting will kick off in Buenos Aires, Argentina, tomorrow, drawing global experts to address safety concerns for patients undergoing tests and scans utilizing ionizing radiation.

“There has been concern that new technologies are not providing the amount of patient protection that medical professionals had expected,” said Madan Rehani, a Radiation Safety Specialist with the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said.

“This comes from continued radiation accidents in radiotherapy facilities, and continued reports of unnecessary radiation doses to patients in those diagnostic examinations.”

The two-day event, which will examine the impact of new imaging and radiation therapy technologies in medicine, brings medical and radiation protection experts, along with medical machine manufacturers, together for the first time to agree on recommendations and guidelines.

Every year, 4 billion x-ray examinations are conducted, with 5 million people undergoing radiotherapy, but there is no clear record of how much radiation patients are exposed to.

While suggestions on bolstering radiological protection is available for health professionals in IAEA Member States, “in future we want to have information for patients themselves,” said Dr. Rehani.

According to a UN report from 2000, patients are exposed to some 200 times – or even nearly 500 times in some nations – more ionizing radiation than medical workers. In dozens of countries, projects are under way to ascertain how much radiation people are receiving in different imaging procedures.

Dr. Rehani is leading a project, still in its infancy, seeking to create a “Smart Card” with a microchip noting the amount of radiation doses people receive.

“We don’t intend to make it obligatory. It will be a voluntary system,” the IAEA official said.


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