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Radiation shielding — experts share tips to get the most value

por Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | September 11, 2019
Business Affairs
Rolling shields from MarShield
From the September 2019 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

On a day-to-day basis, radiation shielding is probably not something that is on the top of a healthcare provider’s list of concerns, but these massive projects are crucial to any facility. Whether it’s an imaging department or a radiotherapy treatment center, having a basic knowledge of shielding will help you make sure the right decisions are made when shielding projects or issues arise. A few experts in the field shared their insight with HCB News on these matters.

What information should providers share with their shielding partners?
Shielding a diagnostic imaging facility and shielding a radiotherapy facility are two completely different tasks. Both require the facility to share certain information with the shielding company, but radiotherapy takes things to a whole other level.

“Radiotherapy is a lot more complicated because you're dealing with much higher levels of radiation,” said Cliff Miller, director of marketing and IT at NELCO Worldwide. “If you're above a 10 megavolts machine, you're not just dealing with gamma but you're also dealing with neutrons to shield for.”

Because of that, it’s beneficial to engage with the company early on in the planning phase regarding planning for the space requirements, the ancillary space around the room and fitting feasibility. All of that can have a large impact on the budget and schedule for completing the project.

“A radiation therapy vault may need four or eight feet of concrete on four- or eight-foot-thick walls and that obviously takes up a lot of room,” said Miller. “We can incorporate other materials to make the thickness of the rooms smaller so that maybe you can fit an extra treatment room in or fit it into a space that you didn't think could fit one before.”

Although shielding for the diagnostic setting is much simpler, there still is pertinent information that needs to be relayed. Andrew Martin, director of physics at Veritas Medical Solutions, said that facilities should identify the brand, model and features of the equipment they have selected, the maximum available dimensions, any obstructions within the area or logistics to the work space, the treatment types, dose per patient, the maximum treatment capacity they intend to offer and their local radiation protection regulations.

Paul Rochus, business development executive at MarShield Radiation Shielding, stressed the importance of knowing what sort of attenuation they need as well as the lead thickness. To determine that, they can consult with a health physicist or may have someone on staff in their radiation safety department.

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