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Increase in the number of radiation incidents due to better reporting

6 August 2015

Our annual report on activity in 2014 relating to our enforcement of The Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2000 in England has been published.

The regulations are intended to:

  • Protect patients from unintended, excessive or incorrect medical exposures during common procedures such as x-rays (including dental), radiotherapy, CT scans and in nuclear medicine.
  • Ensure that the benefits outweigh the risk in every case.
  • Ensure patients receive no more than the required exposure for the desired benefit, within technological limits.

The 2014 report

The report gives detail about the team's activity between January and December 2014. This includes their involvement in helping to shape the inspections of diagnostic imaging departments which are part of the comprehensive programme. It also covers the notifications we receive from healthcare providers when patients receive exposures that are 'much greater than intended' – including our enforcement activity in this area – and the team's work that contributed to the guidance for medical professionals working in radiography and radiotherapy.

During 2014 we received 1,103 notifications, an increase of 14% on the previous year’s total (968). The increase in the number of notifications reflects a strong reporting culture and shows the confidence of clinical departments in our enforcement.

Of all the notifications we received, 900 (82% of the total) were from diagnostic radiology, 55 were from nuclear medicine and 148 notifications were from radiotherapy departments. While the number of notifications may seem relatively high, it needs to be put into the context of the estimated 45 million procedures each year that expose patients to radiation.

In 2014 we served two improvement notices (where we gave the provider time to make improvements) – one of those was served on a hospital and the other was served on a dental practice.

Further information

The safety of the patient and use of ionising radiation for medical exposures has been subject to specific legislation since 1988. We have been the enforcer of the regulations since 2006.

Incidents can be reported online. Further information is also available on our website here about ionising radiation and how we enforce the regulations.

Last updated:
29 May 2017