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Foreword

Within the UK population 15% of radiation exposures from all sources are for medical purposes (Health Protection Agency (HPA), 2008). Over a ten-year period (1991 – 2001) the use of computed tomography had doubled, accounting for 40% of the total dose to the population from medical x-rays and interestingly the use of conventional radiographic and fluoroscopic examinations had halved to 44% (Hart & Wall, 2002). Interventional and angiographic procedures together contribute to the remaining 16% (http://www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1287148001641 ).

Radiographic staff play a pivotal and essential role in the protection of service users, staff and members of the public from the perceived risks of ionising and non-ionising radiations and it is imperative that radiation protection practice is included in an individual’s continuous professional development. The Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR), with the aid of representatives from the profession, produced this guidance booklet pertaining to the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2000 (IR(ME)R 2000) and the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) (Amendment) Regulations 2006. Radiation protection principles and UK legislation is the responsibility of all professionals working with radiation and this booklet provides information and policy guidance from SCoR which should be of use to all radiographers, radiography students and radiography assistant practitioners (APs). Radiographers with the additional responsibility of Radiation Protection Supervisors (RPS) should, as good practice, be involved in IR(ME)R matters within their local department even though it is not their statutory responsibility.

The guidance booklet has been produced with a “toolkit” approach having live hyperlinks to various websites giving direct access to specific legislation as well as published guidance relating to radiation protection matters from other organisations. It provides signposting to relevant legislation and, where appropriate, guidance on the implementation of that legislation. It is intended to be supportive to the radiographic profession by providing easily accessible information & knowledge and practical guidance – it is not a text book. Neither is it intended to be prescriptive or an attempt to interpret any legal requirements but rather to indicate where information relative to best practice can be sourced. Those practitioners who carry responsibilities for radiation protection matters are advised to ensure that they are also acquainted with the legalities of relevant legislation. Where appropriate, the SCoR clearly states specific guidance which should be regarded as an expression of professional opinion rather than as a definitive statement of a legal position.

Within this booklet, the term “radiology” is used to define practice within radiotherapy, diagnostic radiography, interventional radiology and nuclear medicine. The booklet has been designed to give an initial topic overview in a general format pertaining to radiology, followed by specific information relating to diagnostic imaging, radiotherapy, interventional radiology and nuclear medicine practice (if and when appropriate). In this way the live hyperlinks can be used to explore topics in greater depth and detail.

Although this guidance replaces previous SCoR guidance and publications it should be recognised that there are still some excellent “good practice” guides available from other professional bodies such as the “Medical and Dental Guidance Notes” (MDGN) Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM) (2002).

Radiation regulations set out the legal capacity in which practices should be undertaken and frameworks under which individuals are required to act or carry out tasks. All healthcare professionals have a legal responsibility to act in the manner that is set out in local written procedures relating to the various regulations. However, it is imperative that they must also be aware of their professional responsibility in knowing whether that way of proceeding is an appropriate method to carry out the delivery of safe effective practice.
Where it is believed that this is not the case all healthcare professionals have a professional responsibility to raise this with their Employer.

The invaluable support and advice from the representatives of the SCoR Radiation Protection Reference Group, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and those who responded via the peer review process is particularly appreciated. The booklet, which will be reviewed annually, will be available via the on-line document library of the SCoR website which will enable necessary updates to take place in a timely fashion. Any queries regarding this handbook should be directed in the first instance to Maria Murray (Professional Officer responsible for radiation protection) at MariaM@sor.org.
 

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