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Increase in number of patients accidentally exposed to ionising radiation in Irish hospitals last year

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76 people were unintentionally exposed to ionising radiation in Irish hospitals in 2020, according to the Health and Information Quality Authority (HIQA). This figure represents an 11% increase on the total reported in 2019.

HIQA today published an overview report on the 'increase in accidental and unintended exposure to ionising radiation events notified to HIQA in 2020.

Under the European Union (Basic Safety Standards for Protection against dangers arising from Medical Exposure to Ionising Radiation) Regulations 2018 and 2019, HIQA is the competent authority for patient protection in relation to medical exposure to ionising radiation in Ireland.

In its 2019 report — its first such publication — HIQA expressed hope that the areas of improvement it identified "would help reduce the likelihood of such events and drive quality improvements in safety mechanisms for medical exposures in Ireland."

Despite this, eight more accidental exposure incidents were recorded in 2020 than in the previous year.

Human error was identified as the main cause of accidental exposure in 58% of the incidents, however, HIQA determined that other factors likely contributed to these.

Some 34% of the incidents involved the wrong patient being exposed to ionising radiation. HIQA said these exposures occurred at varying points along the medical exposure pathway.

It stressed that the number of unintended exposure to ionising radiation incidents last year was small compared with the total number of procedures carried out, estimated to be in the region of three million.

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Source: Irish Examiner, 15 September 2021

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