Many patients who have had nuclear medicine procedures don’t realize they can set off radiation alarms, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found.
The study appears in this month’s issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine.
Twenty million nuclear medicine procedures are performed annually in the United States. They are used to detect and evaluate heart disease, brain disorders and cancer. They also are used to treat overactive thyroids and some cancers.
To quote the journal:
“Patients who receive radiopharmaceuticals in the course of diagnosis or treatment are often released when their bodies still contain elevated amounts of radioactive material. These amounts are sufficiently high to be detected by sensitive radiation monitors for days or even weeks after administration.”
However interesting this may be, the study actually examined how often doctors tell patients about the potential to trigger an alarm.
The study found room for improvement was needed.
“Patients undergoing diagnostic procedures are less likely than patients undergoing therapeutic procedures to be informed that they could activate radiation alarms in public places,” Armin Ansari, a health physicist in the radiation studies branch of the CDC, said in a press release. “We also found that many health care professionals who administer radiopharmaceuticals to patients — or who communicate with them regarding the radiation safety aspects of their procedure — have not had any formal or systematic training in patient education, communications or counseling.”
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