Preventing loss and theft of sources
While proper training and experience will reduce the risk of radiation
exposure when sealed radioactive sources are used, the vast majority of
serious accidents are due
to a source that has been lost or stolen. Good operational practices and
procedures can reduce such accidents by preventing a source from becoming
lost or stolen in the first place.
|Maintain proper records of all radiation
sources, including isotope, activity, manufacturer, and the name
of person responsible.
|Establish an effective accounting system
for all sources including: a periodic physical inventory of stock
to confirm location of sources, a regular check of all sources
stored in containers, and a movement log to track sources when
taken out of storage, in use, or returned.
|Maintain and service equipment regularly
as recommended by the manufacturer.
|Secure all sources to prevent theft.
|Keep a shielded container in the treatment
area during use to house the source safely should it accidentally
be removed from the patient.
|Use care when using a source in an applicator to
ensure that it is securely closed or covered.
|Suture radioactive needles in the patient
to prevent them working loose.
|Ensure that the number of sources removed from the
patient equal the number inserted.
|Monitor for radiation with a dose rate
survey meter after completion of therapy to ensure that no source
remains in the patient, treatment area, or ward.
|If sources are unaccounted for, monitor dressing and
excreta from patient for radioactive sources before
|If a source still cannot be accounted for,
monitor all containers (soiled dressing bins, laundry baskets,
etc.) coming from the treatment ward for radioactivity. If necessary,
monitor likely routes from treatment room to laundry or waste
collection areas or other likely areas for signs of radioactivity.
|Return sources to stores as soon as possible
after use, using a shielded container for transport.
All users of sealed radioactive sources should have a contingency plan
in place for emergencies, such as a damaged, lost, or stolen source. The
plan should detail who is responsible, who must be contacted, and how
to get outside assistance to deal with the emergency.