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3) Role of the Medical Physics Expert (MPE)

Regulation 9 requires the Employer to have a medical physics expert (MPE) involved in every medical exposure. The MPE should be:

  • closely involved in every radiotherapeutic practice other than standardised therapeutic nuclear medicine practices;
  • available in standardised therapeutic nuclear medicine practices and in diagnostic nuclear medicine practices;
  • involved as appropriate for consultation on optimisation, including patient dosimetry and quality assurance, and to give advice on matters relating to radiation protection concerning medical exposure, as required, in all other radiological practice   (SI 2000 No 1059)

IPEM (2002) have usefully described the MPE role (in Appendix 5 of MDGN- IPEM, 2002) for the various radiology modalities and radiotherapy.

SCoR Guidance
The RPA and RPS roles have no statutory responsibility in the IR(ME)R whereas the MPE does, but in reality, the RPA and the MPE may be one and the same person. It must be clear, though, that an RPA may be an independent clinical scientist who advises a department on IRR’99 but the MPE must be fully involved (i.e. normally employed) in the department. The definition of an MPE is:
‘a person who holds a science degree or its equivalent and who is experienced in the application of physics to the diagnostic and therapeutic uses of ionising radiation’(SI 2000 No 1059).

Although the IR(ME)R MPE within departments is usually registered as a Clinical Scientist by the Health Professions Council (HPC)  under the Health Professions Order 2001, SCoR believe that an appropriately trained radiographer with the relevant qualification (i.e. a science degree) may also be able to undertake this role.

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