What are radiation safety precautions?
The final potential adverse effect of radiopharmaceutical therapy to be discussed is the effect on persons other than the treated patient. Because the source of radiation is given directly to the patient, it is possible for some dose to be delivered to members of the public. This is most commonly caused by gamma or x-ray emissions directly from the patient and is a very local problem—the radiation dose drops with the square of the distance from the source, so this radiation dose can be minimized by simply spending very little time within 1 to 2 meters of the patient. This also has little relevance for isotopes with no or minimal beta or x-ray emissions. However, the radiopharmaceutical also has the potential to be excreted from the patient in sweat, blood, saliva, urine, feces, and tears. Therefore, precautions are necessary to avoid contaminating members of the public with the radiopharmaceutical. The required precautions vary from state to state and country to county and may range from simple “universal precautions” used in handling any patient fluids to strict isolation within a hospital for some period of time.