Radiation Safety

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Observing a few basic precautions while caring for patients undergoing radiation therapy treatments will minimize the potential for exposure to radiation.

Exposure to radiation can occur in either of the two ways listed below. (See Section 7.6 and 7.7 of the University of Washington Radiation Safety Manual for additional information)

Internal Exposure

This type of exposure results when radioactive material enters the body by ingestion, inhalation or absorption through the skin. This type of exposure is only a concern when radiopharmaceuticals are administered to a patient in a form where the patient can discharge radioactive materials (e.g., feces, sweat, urine, vomit). By following simple precautions the potential for internal exposure can be minimized or eliminated.

Some methods of reducing the potential for internal exposure include the following:

Wear gloves while attending to radiopharmaceutical therapy patients or handling body fluids and items that have come into contact with the patient during the procedure. Gloves should be removed when leaving the patient room and placed in the garbage containers located in the patient room. Particular attention should be paid to removing the gloves in such a fashion as to eliminate contact with the outside of the gloves,

Wear protective gowns and shoe covers when in the patient room. These items will help prevent clothing and shoes from becoming contaminated. Protective clothing also prevents the spread of contamination to outside of the patient room. Protective clothing should be removed when leaving the patient room and placed into appropriate containers (garbage or laundry) located in the patient room.

Wash hands after leaving the patient room with warm soap and water. This will help remove any contamination that may be on the skin.

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