Considerations before a radiation shielding project

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | October 11, 2021
Business Affairs X-Ray
From the October 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Why do these requirements vary so much from state to state? Evearitt says it’s a matter of who is serving on the boards that oversee the rules.

“I think it’s [based on] a lot of the personalities of the people that set these things up originally,” he explained. “As jobs turn over and the state regulators change over time, people don’t have the desire to try to implement a bunch of new regulations. Once something is in place, it’s hard to change the entire practice.”

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Launders described a situation in which a facility doesn’t consult with a physicist before embarking on a radiation shielding project as “worrying.” He always recommends consulting a qualified professional that knows the local rules.

Evearitt noted that these situations usually don’t present themselves at the hospital-level because they are much more likely to employ a board-certified physicist as part of their team.

The discrepancies are more common in chiropractic offices and strip malls where there are X-ray machines. But still, 15 percent of the people who call Evearitt don’t realize that they need the shielding done until the vendor shows up to install the machine.

Recently, he got a frantic call from an office in Iowa that already had an X-ray machine and wanted to buy a C-arm. They were working with a national vendor that specialized in getting them set up with training.

“The national vendor didn’t realize that Iowa required a shielding design to be approved by the state before the machine is installed,” said Evearitt. “You would think that this national vendor would know this, but because the regulations are so different from state to state, they thought it could get taken care of within 90 days of installation.”

He was able to get them a shielding design, but the office had to cancel the training and re-schedule the flights for the people who planned to come in.

What does a physicist do?
We’ve established that it’s important to reach out to a physicist to ensure you’re following your state’s requirements, but what else do these professionals do?

According to Bryan Bordeman, operations manager at Global Partners in Shielding, the physicist determines what the shielding specifications are.

“They run their calculations based on the customer’s requirements and they give shielding specifications to the shielding company,” he said. “The shielding company would then determine the best way to construct it concerning feasibility and cost.”

If consulting a physicist is the first thing you do, you may save a substantial amount of money. They might be able to determine whether a room can be moved to another location that’s partly underground to potentially eliminate half of the shielding.

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