Technological development has opened new perspectives for the use of radiation in medicine, with improved safety and effectiveness of procedures. However, the incorrect of inappropriate use of this technology can generate health risks. Controlling these risks must provide an adequate level of protection for patients and healthcare professionals, without limiting the benefits of the procedures.
Eight international organisations have contributed to the new International Basic Safety Standards for radiation ( BSS ), which are the result of an unprecedented international effort to harmonise radiation protection requirements for patients, workers and the public.
The European Union has recently passed Directive 2013/59/Euratom laying down basic safety standards for protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation (IR). Safety requirements for the medical use of IR make up a very significant proportion of the new BSS standards. The implementation of these standards could be substantially improved through the promotion of effective coordination and cooperation between healthcare authorities and radiation protection regulatory bodies. This dialogue should include all stakeholders, such as healthcare professionals, patients/consumers, device manufacturers and scientific associations, among others.
In December 2012, an international conference on radiation protection in medicine, organised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) took place in Bonn, Germany. The conference culminated in a call for action, today known as the "Bonn Call for Action" , identifying 10 priority actions to improve radiation protection in medicine:
- Improve justification for radiation procedures.
- Improve the optimisation of protection in medical uses of ionising radiation.
- Strengthen manufacturers’ role in radiation safety.
- Strengthen the education and training of healthcare professionals.
- Promote a strategic research agenda for radiation protection in medicine.
- Improve data collection on the exposure of patients and healthcare professionals to radiation.
- Improve the prevention of incidents and adverse events.
- Strengthen the culture of radiation protection in the healthcare sector.
- Foster benefit-risk dialogue on the medical use of ionising radiation.
- Strengthen the implementation of safety requirements (BSS) globally.