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Radiation safety and medical physics

Medical physics and radiation safety

SAMI is committed to the health and wellbeing of patients and maintaining the highest standards of safety and quality in the delivery of imaging services.

A team of physicists and radiation safety officers provide medical physics support services across hospital sites, in the following areas:

Radiation dose estimations for clinical trials and research

All research involving exposure to ionising radiation above standard medical care amounts requires a radiation dose and risk assessment report sent to the Human Research Ethics Committee. A medical physicist will calculate the radiation dose from the procedure and provide statements to the committee on the risks associated with the radiation exposure/dose.

Optimising equipment and exams

The team assists medical practitioners, radiographers and nuclear medicine technologists in the evaluation of exam usefulness and participates in image quality and perception studies. Medical physicists ensure equipment achieves the highest possible image quality while maintaining the lowest radiation dose possible within reason.

Radiation safety training

The team develops and delivers educational material for medical practitioners, radiographers, nuclear medicine technologists and nurses, as well as for students and resident medical officers.

Radiation compliance and acceptance testing

Regular testing is performed to ensure that equipment meets regulatory and manufacturer specifications. For example, the team will measure and review the radiation dose produced by X-ray apparatus such as a CT to ensure that patients are not overexposed. Regular compliance testing and auditing through programs such as the national Diagnostic Reference Level scheme is also undertaken.

Radiation shielding design and compliance

To make certain all safety requirements are met, the team calculates and provides the shielding thicknesses required to ensure that areas occupied by staff and the general public are below unsafe radiation levels. The team will also verify the installation.

Radionuclide therapy

The team plays a vital role in the implementation, delivery, verification and maintenance of radionuclide therapy throughout SAMI.  The team ensures patient and staff safety during procedures.

For more details on what a medical physicist does please see the Australasian College of Physical Scientists & Engineers in Medicine position paper.

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