In the quest to discover the root of illnesses, patients have to undergo an increasing number of scans and tests that may involve the use of ionising radiation to detect the source and scope of an ailment. However, this practice could also put patients at risk.
"There has been concern that new technologies are not providing the amount of patient protection that medical professionals had expected. This comes from continued radiation accidents in radiotherapy facilities, and continued reports of unnecessary radiation doses to patients in those diagnostic examinations," says the IAEA's Madan Rehani, a Radiation Safety Specialist.
So the IAEA will be conducting a session in Buenos Aires, Argentina to explore the impact of new imaging and radiation therapy technologies in medicine, from 18 - 19 October 2008.
For the first time medical experts, radiation protection experts and manufacturers of these machines will be discussing the issue to arrive at recommendations and guidelines, some of which shall apply to the industry.
It's estimated that each year there are about 4 billion X-ray examinations, 30 million nuclear medicine examinations and 5 million patients undergoing radiotherapy. But there's no accurate record of how much radiation a patient has been exposed to through the process of diagnosis and evaluation during a series of examinations.
"The IAEA has been giving substantial emphasis to the programme on radiation protection of patients," says Dr. Rehani. "We have a website which is unique in the world dedicated to the radiological protection of patients. The information is currently for health professionals and those who are participating in our projects from Member States. In future we want to have information for patients themselves."
The IAEA has been active in providing free training material online for health workers dealing with patient protection in different contexts, like diagnostic and interventi
|Contact: IAEA Press Office|
International Atomic Energy Agency