U.K. hospital group fined after radiologist exposed to radiation

United Lincolnshire Hospitals National Health Service (NHS) Trust has been fined after an interventional radiologist was exposed to "significant" amounts of ionizing radiation.

Boston Magistrates' Court heard on 7 October that an interventional radiologist working with a CT scanner at Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, U.K., received more than double the annual dose limit for skin exposure in a little more than three months.

When the interventional radiologist arrived at the hospital in August 2011, he favored fluoroscopy, operating x-rays for periods of up to 30 seconds at a time. Moreover, while inserting the biopsy needles, he placed his hands directly in the main x-ray beam, resulting in an overexposure of radiation to his hands.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the trust never carried out a risk assessment for the CT scanner operating in fluoroscopy mode, so a safe system of work was not developed. In addition, managers were aware this technique was being carried out but did not ensure proper procedures were followed.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust pleaded guilty to breaching regulations of the Ionizing Radiations Regulations 1999, was fined a total of 30,000 pounds (36,000 euros), and ordered to pay costs of 15,128 pounds (18,000 euros).

"The regulations require exposures to ionizing radiation to be kept as low as is reasonably practicable," HSE inspector Judith McNulty-Green said. "In addition, there are dose limits which should never be exceeded. In this case the dose to the radiologist's hands was twice the relevant legal dose limit."

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