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Centro médico bajo fuego para la exposición de radiación alegada

por Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | January 30, 2014
Five lawsuits were filed against Methodist Medical Center earlier this month claiming that former and current employees were exposed to excessive radiation.

The culprit could be poorly protected walls in and around the Tennessee radiology imaging center within its new emergency department.

The lawsuits state that the defendants, Covenant Health, Rentenbach Engineering Company and TEG Architects LLC, did not deploy a qualified expert to inspect the installation and construction parameters for the lead shielding or determine the lead barrier thickness to make sure that there wasn't any scatter or leakage radiation.

The center denies all allegations and in a statement said, "Methodist Medical Center places the highest priority on employee and public safety. We maintain an active and ongoing radiation quality and compliance program with specific procedures to monitor safety. Based on the results of this program, it has been verified that we have met all safety standards for radiation exposure. We intend to refute these accusations vigorously."

When building a new radiology construction, most states require that a qualified expert create a shielding plan.

A respected board-certified medical physicist, who wished to remain anonymous, told DOTmed News that only 28 states require plans to be submitted to the state for approval. Tennessee is not one of them.

"It's unfortunate but it's probably a very much needed wake up call for the imaging industry to realize that if you do a renovation or you do a modification, you need to get this done, it can't be an afterthought," he said.

To create the shielding plan, which is relatively inexpensive, a medical physicist examines the type of machine, decides the placement of it in the room and calculates how much lead needs to go into each wall, window, and door. The architect then takes the plan and draws construction documents to ensure that the correct amount of lead is used. Physicists then do a bunch of testing.

The National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements created a national shielding standard that goes into detail about when a shielding plan should be done, how to calculate the amount of shielding that should be used and how it should be installed.

Joint Commission just released new imaging standards that will go into affect on July 1 that address shielding design and shielding integrity surveys for new construction and modifications.

"I think they recognize that this was an area where there are gaps and there were compliance problems and there was a possibility of incidents like this occurring," the physicist said.

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