July 13, 2005
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved new procedures for permitting visitors to patients receiving nuclear medicine or brachytherapy to receive radiation doses above current regulatory limits if warranted by the patient’s needs.
Members of the public visiting patients who are undergoing nuclear medicine or brachytherapy procedures receive radiation doses from radiation emanating from the patient. The actual dose depends on many factors, including the medical procedure involved, the frequency and duration of the visits, proximity to the patient and the extent of the visitor’s involvement in the patient’s care.
Under NRC regulations, the permissible annual radiation dose to any member of the public, including hospital visitors, is 0.1 rem (100 millirem). Visitors to patients who cannot be discharged under NRC regulations are permitted to receive a dose of up to 0.5 rem (500 millirem) under certain circumstances. (For comparison, the average annual dose from natural sources to an individual in the United States is about 0.3 rem, or 300 millirem.)
Read the entire NRC press release online at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/news/2005/05-101.html