Thursday, August 17, 2006

Recieving Radiotherapy, Be Careful You may trigger Alarms on the Airport!

Radiotherapy patients can trigger airport radiation alarms
Patients who undergo diagnostic and therapeutic procedures involving radioisotopes must be informed that they might trigger radiation alarms during security checks. Gangopadhyay and colleagues (p 293) describe the case of a 46 year old man who received radioiodine treatment for recurrent thyrotoxicosis. The nuclear medicine department did not tell the patient that he might set off radiation detectors. Six weeks later, the patient was detained at Orlando airport in the US after he triggered a radiation alarm. He was released after a long period of investigation and much embarrassment. The half life of the isotope and the increasing sensitivity of the detectors in airports must be considered when such warnings are given, the authors add.
Reference- BMJ 2006;333 (5 August), doi:10.1136/bmj.333.7562.0-a

1 comment:

Dan said...

In the mid-90's, at Marion General Hospital, Ohio, a sanitation truck driver was scheduled for a nuclear medicine exam requiring a significant delay time between radio-pharmaceutical delivery and scanning (full-body bone scan?). After the radio-pharmaceutical injection, he returned to work during the delay time before the scan.

On his first delivery to the garbage dump, his vehicle set off the fixed radiation detectors that all the vehicles drove through to avoid inadvertant dumping of radioactive materials.

He left the truck, and went to the monitoring shack to have a cup of coffee while the staff of the dump went over his truck with hand-held scanners. Finding nothing, the staff directed him to drive through the radiation detectors again -- which he did, triggering the alarm again.

The driver returned to the shack for another cup of coffee, the staff scanned the truck again, all to no avail. When he drove the truck through the detectors a third time, the alarm sounded yet again.

The dump staff was considering that the truck would have to be unloaded piece-by-piece to find the problem, when the driver, having had his fill of coffee, headed to their main office to use the restroom. His path took him through the detectors....

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