Care Quality Commission
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CQC reports on radiation incidents

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

The report gives a breakdown of the number and type of notifications we received from healthcare providers when patients received exposures of radiation that were ‘much greater than intended’ during 2016.

Also, it presents the key findings from our inspections of departments, either to follow up on a notification or as part of our programme of planned inspections, alongside details of our enforcement activity in this area.

During 2016 we received a total of 1,319 notifications: an increase of 3% on the previous year’s total (1,277).

An estimated 40.5 million procedures were carried out during 2016 that exposed patients to radiation.

Although notifications relate to incidents where patients receive radiation exposures that are ‘much greater than intended’, this does not mean that incidents reported have resulted in harm.

The increase in notifications in 2016 is partly the result of an increase in activity taking place as well as more clinicians and healthcare professionals recognising the importance of reporting incidents of over-exposure.

Of all the notifications we received, 1,069 (81% of the total) were from diagnostic radiology departments, 61 were from nuclear medicine and 189 notifications were from radiotherapy departments.

In 2016 we issued improvement notices to five hospital trusts as a result of concerns identified on our inspections under the regulations. More information about our enforcement under IRMER.

Professor Ted Baker, Chief Inspector of Hospitals at the Care Quality Commission, said:

“The increase in the number of notifications we have received year on year reflects a continued improvement in understanding and awareness about what needs to be notified to us and an improved incident reporting culture.

“It is important that this improvement continues and that organisations learn from errors, and take action to mitigate the risks of repeat errors to protect patients from risks when, as part of their diagnosis or treatment, they are exposed to radiation from x-rays or radiopharmaceuticals.

“We hope this report will be of use to clinical departments in helping them to provide safer services to patients.”

The report also provides an update on our work to help develop guidance for healthcare professionals working in radiology, nuclear medicine and radiotherapy departments about making notifications and shares the key themes and learning drawn from our work in enforcing the regulations.


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