Pilgrim fined over radiation

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United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust which runs Pilgrim Hospital has been fined £30,000 after an interventional radiologist was exposed to significant amounts of ionizing radiation.

Boston Magistrates’ Court heard that the male staff member working with a CT scanner at the Boston hospital received more than double the annual dose limit for skin exposure in just over three months.

As an interventional radiologist his work involved the insertion of biopsy needles into patients, which he carried out using the CT scanner operating in continuous “fluoroscopy” mode, giving “real time” x-ray images which he observed while standing next to the scanner.

The court heard that while inserting the biopsy needles he placed his hands directly in the main x-ray beam, resulting in an over exposure of radiation to his hands.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the trust had never carried out a risk assessment for the CT scanner operating in the fluoroscopy mode so a safe system of work was not developed.

In addition, managers were aware that this technique was being carried out but did not ensure proper procedures were followed.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 7(1) and 11of the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 and was fined a total of £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,128.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Judith McNulty-Green said: “The regulations require exposures to ionising radiation to be kept as low as is reasonably practicable.

“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.”

A spokesman for ULHT said: “The trust takes any potential safety risks involving our staff very seriously and we fully accept the outcome of today’s proceedings. We are confident that this was an isolated incident and have implemented a series of measures to ensure that it is not repeated.”