IAEA releases a reporting system for radiation events

Radiation induced skin injuries to patients undergoing X ray fluoroscopy procedures to guide interventions in cardiology and radiology have continued to be observed since they were first reported in the early 1990’s. Only a very small fraction of such injuries are reported to national authorities, and many patients suffer because of lack of proper identification of the cause of injury. About 3.6 billion medical X ray examinations and procedures are performed annually world-wide and, typically, 1% of these are interventional procedures. It is further estimated that 1 in 10,000 patients undergoing radiological interventional procedures may endure skin injuries, which means an estimated 3600 patients may be suffering. With current systems, not even 100 patients are reported in different countries despite requirements to report in most countries. Realizing the need and lacunae in existing systems, the IAEA has launched a system named SAFRAD (SAFety in RADiological procedures) for pilot testing by those directly involved in performing interventional procedures. This is a voluntary reporting system where information pertaining to patients who are submitted to defined trigger levels will be available by means of an international database. The primary objective of the system is educational in nature. It is believed that going through the process of SAFRAD itself results in safety and quality of service. For more information about SAFRAD, click here.

The ultimate purpose is to avoid injury in the first place through awareness among concerned professionals. In earlier years, the IAEA has focussed on training actions and education through its website on Radiation Protection of Patients. Freely downloadable training material on Radiation Protection in Cardiology and another one on Radiation Protection in Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology had been provided for the last several years. Cardiologists from more than 55 countries have benefited through a number of training programmes organized by the IAEA in earlier years. A network of cardiologists in radiation protection was created in 2007 for Asia. With these actions already providing a background, the reporting system shall complete the circle of action in this field.

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