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COVID-19 and Health Workers: Radiation Protection

22 April 2020

Recording →

Presenter: Jessica Clements, Enis Özyar
Date of broadcast: 22 April 2020, 4:00 PM CEST

About the webinar

Health workers are at the front line of the COVID-19 outbreak response and as such are exposed to hazards that put them at risk of infection. They need to reduce the possibility of COVID-19 infections and deal with a loss of staff due to quarantine, in addition to the usual hazards and the added stress of the pandemic. 

These workers can be exposed to radiation when they use radiation sources in diagnostic radiology and interventional procedures using X Rays, nuclear medicine and radiotherapy. During these procedures, it is vital that necessary protective measures are in place for radiation protection of health workers and other essential operators. This webinar will provide examples on how health workers ensure appropriate radiation risk assessment and management in the context of COVID-19 outbreak. This platform, among the many, will also highlight and applaud our global front lines heroes!

The IAEA is closely monitoring the COVID-19 global developments and upon request, offers the necessary assistance to Member States to strengthen radiation protection within the framework the IAEA Safety Standards. Safety Standards such as International Basic Safety Standards (GSR Part 3),  Occupational Radiation Protection (GSG-7) and Radiation Protection and Safety in Medical Uses  of Ionizing Radiation (SSG-46). All these three Safety Standards set out a holistic approach to risk management in the national radiation safety infrastructure including necessary worker protection.  Safety Standards are applicable to normal operations and abnormal conditions in all exposure situations including potential exposures.  

Since the outbreak started, many medical facilities have been collaborating with national and local regulators to establish a protocol for setting up temporary imaging in unshielded areas such as in areas outside hospital premises. Appropriate radiation protection measures and special care are required in the setup of portable imaging as many are unshielded and may be without network and power access when outside of the hospital building.

For health workers, strategies for maintaining droplet precautions and preserving time and cleaning materials, including imaging through barriers (plastic or glass) are required especially where working conditions are impacted due to unavailability of resources and appropriate infrastructure. Additionally, novel working practices are required in medical uses of ionizing radiation in radiological procedures.   

Learning objectives

Participants of the webinar will learn about:

  • Strategies to work safely while under stress without jeopardizing radiation protection and safety
  • Arrangements to protect health workers using radiation sources for COVID-19 infections
  • Arrangements for facilities converted into pandemic hospitals
  • Difficulties faced by health workers when using of personal protective equipment (PPE) to avoid COVID-19 infections and reuse of PPEs
  • Projections for possible dose increase for workers due to an extended screening

About the presenters

Jessica Clements

Ms. Clements is the Chief Medical Physicist and Regional Radiation Safety Officer for the Southern California Region of Kaiser Permanente in the Southern California Permanente Medical Group. Ms. Clements works with a large group of medical physicists and residents as well as colleagues in the Medical Imaging Technology and Informatics department.

Together, they support a system where care is provided for more than 4.6 Million members at 15 hospitals and hundreds of medical office buildings. She is active in the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors, American Association of Physicists in Medicine, American College of Radiology, and the American Board of Radiology. She currently serves as chair of the ACR- AAPM Radiation Safety Officer Resources project, co-chair of the AAPM Radiological Protection Committee, chair of the ABR diagnostic oral exam committee, and chair of AAPM Task Group 313 Nuclear Medicine Shielding Requirements.

She has made several radiation safety presentations throughout her career and contributed to multiple medical physics practice guidelines and publications. She is certified by the ABR in diagnostic and nuclear medical physics and has been recognized as a fellow by the AAPM.

Enis Özyar

Enis Özyar M.D., is Professor of Radiation Oncology at the Acibadem University, School of Medicine, Department of Radiation Oncology, Istanbul, Turkey. Dr. Ozyar currently works at flaghship hospital – Acibadem Maslak Hospital – of the Acibadem Health Group.

Dr. Özyar is also working as coordinator of Radiation Oncology Centers of Acibadem Health Group. This is the largest private health care group in Turkey, which has  8 Radiation Oncology centers equipped with high tech systems such as MR-Linac, IGRT-IMRT-SRT linac systems, robotic linacs, gammaknife, brachytherapy and intraoperative radiotherapy. Main interest areas are head and neck cancer, prostate cancer, gynecological cancers and sterotactic radiotherapy.

He is also charing Acibadem Radiotherapy Technicians School and Health Physics Programme of Acibadem University. Dr. Özyar published more than 100 manuscripts in international Science Citation Index journals.

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