FPJ exclusive: Radiation safety takes a back seat

Mumbai: For almost a year now, resident doctors at the Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital, Sion, have been working without anti-radiation badges in the X-ray, CT scan and sonography departments.

Officials from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) said the hospital does not have adequate number of anti-radiation badges and neither does it have a licence to operate radioactive equipment in the orthopaedic department.

The mission of this authority is to ensure that the use of ionising radiation and nuclear energy in India does not cause undue risk to public health and the environment.

This comes after a doctor had complained to the AERB in July stating the hospital has violated the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, by not providing an adequate number of thermos-luminescent dosimeters (TLDs), which are radiation detection devices, to the resident doctors working in the radiation department.

Health experts say employees exposed to radiation are at risk for heart and brain disease, cancer and hair loss. “It has been brought to our notice on July 8 the Orthopaedic department of your institute is possessing and operating x-ray equipment without obtaining license from AERB," reads the letter to Sion hospital.

The AERB officials said, any hospital which conducts X-rays, CT scans and sonography, examinations which emit radiation, needs to provide TLD badges to its doctors and medical staffers.

The badge tabulates the amount of radiation they are being exposed to. “The radiation which falls on the badge, stimulates the electrons in the device and energy is stored in the badge. After three months, the badges are sent to the AERB for reading.

This reading helps identify if the wearers have been exposed to high levels of radiation, following which the hospital takes steps to curb it,’ he said. The notice has also demanded an explanation for the orthopaedics department operating radiology without a licence.

“It may be noted that providing personnel monitoring service to the radiation workers and obtaining a licence for the operation of diagnostic X-ray equipment is a mandatory requirement under the provisions of Atomic Energy (Radiation protection)

Rules of 2004, promulgated under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962,” reads the notice. Resident doctors said they had complained to the hospital administration about the want of anti-radiation badges.

“The badges are given to the employees regularly. Sometimes there is a slight delay in obtaining these badges due to the appointment and transfer of personnel.

We will look into this matter and will direct the concerned department to make it available soon,” said Dr Mohan Joshi, dean of Sion hospital.

“The badges are important as the resident doctors or staffers are constantly exposed to such radiation. The hospital administration cannot fall behind in the procurement of such devices, the absence of which can severely impact the health of resident doctors and staffers,” said doctors.

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