NEWS Radiation accidents surge in NSW hospitals and medical centers

Radiation accidents surge in NSW hospitals and medical centers

“The NSW EPA recently launched a campaign to educate the healthcare sector about mandatory radiation incident reporting requirements and, as a result, there has been an increase in reporting,” she said.


“EPA will continue to work with the health care sector to ensure best practice measures are in place.”

The spokeswoman noted that EPA is in the process of completing or has completed all of the report’s recommendations.

“EPA is investigating reports of equipment and software failures and is contacting the manufacturer.”

Of the total number of incidents, 172 involved exposure to radiation in excess of 1 mSv.

According to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Authority, the average Australian is exposed to about 1.7 millisieverts of radiation from natural sources each year.

High doses of ionizing radiation (100 mSv or more) are known to cause cancer. There is ongoing scientific uncertainty about whether lower doses have health effects.

Accidents fall into three categories: medical imaging procedures such as X-rays and CT scans, radiation therapy in hospital oncology wards, and nuclear medicine procedures such as PET scans.

The number of incident reports involving radiation oncology has risen sharply, jumping from three in 2017-18 to 57 in the last financial year.

Equipment failures accounted for 30 percent of all incidents in the last financial year, up from 20 percent in the previous financial year.

The second most common reason was that patients’ paperwork was not properly interpreted or read by staff, with 49 people affected.

“EPA is investigating reports of equipment and software failures and is contacting the manufacturer.”

EPA spokesman

The commission must report incidents that may result in “serious health-related effects” on patients to the Healthcare Complaints Commission (HCCC) for further investigation.

It reported an incident last fiscal year in which a palliative cancer patient received radiation therapy to healthy tissue, but not their tumor. Four of the patient’s five doses failed.

“This results in the patient’s normal tissue receiving 16 shades of gray [units of ionising radiation] rather than tumor targets,” the report said.


“At the time of writing this report, EPA is awaiting a response from HCCC.”

A NSW Health spokesman noted the report covered public and private hospitals as well as private medical imaging centres.

“Given the number of procedures performed in public and private facilities, these incidents are rare, but it is important that any incident be reviewed through the appropriate channels, including the Radiation Advisory Committee,” the spokesman said.

A spokesman for Environment Minister James Griffin said he was pleased to see an increase in reports to regulators from radiation oncologists.

“He wants the NSW EPA to be a strong regulator and understands that it will continue to investigate incidents such as equipment failures,” the spokeswoman said.

Liam Mannix’s Examine newsletter explains and analyzes science, with a rigorous focus on evidence. Sign up every week to get.

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