The Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2000 [IR(ME)R] and their Amendments 2006 are intended to protect individuals against the dangers of ionising radiation while undergoing medical exposures. These include diagnostic procedures such as X-rays, CT scans and nuclear medicine examinations, as well as treatment such as radiotherapy irrespective of where they are undertaken, e.g. hospital department, dental practice, chiropractic clinic. Medical exposures undertaken for research purposes are covered by these Regulations.
The Regulations define the duty holders who carry responsibility under the new Regulations. These are:
- the employer, normally the LHB/Trust in the NHS environment
the referrer, a registered health care professional who is entitled in accordance with the employer's procedures to refer patients for medical exposures;
the practitioner, a registered health care professional who is entitled in accordance with the employer's procedures and whose primary responsibility is justification of the individual medical exposure;
the operator, a person who is entitled in accordance with the employer's procedures to undertake
s the practical aspects of the medical exposure.
The employer has responsibility for creating a framework for radiation protection of the patient through the provision of written standard operating procedures with which duty holders must comply. The procedures listed in Schedule 1 to the Regulations are fundamental to good practice and include those for entitling those persons who may act as a referrer, practitioner or operator; identifying the individual to be exposed; making enquiries of females to establish the possibility of pregnancy; and for carrying out and recording of an evaluation of each medical exposure.
From the 1st December 2009, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) will have the statutory responsibility to consider incidents (involving medical exposures 'much greater than intended') reported to them and take proportionate enforcement action consistent with regard to enforcement policies elsewhere in the UK. This may involve assessments of reports submitted by post or for more serious incidents that include on-site investigations. HIW are already responsible for a programme of routine audit of compliance with IR(ME)R by relevant employers in Wales including the NHS. This audit comprises a combination of on-site visits and postal self-assessments with particular attention paid to higher dose procedures such as radiotherapy.
No practitioner or operator may carry out a medical exposure without being adequately trained and the responsibility for this training lies with the employer as well as the individual.
Doctors, dentists and other clinical staff who request medical exposures, such as X-rays, are covered by the Regulations. Obligation is placed on all staff who refer patients for these procedures to provide sufficient clinical information about the patient to enable assessment of whether the procedure is justified. Those signing for example, an x-ray request form, must therefore ensure that adequate and accurate patient clinical details have been entered together with sufficient information to unambiguously identify the intended patient.
Information accessible via this page includes:
The IR(ME) Regulations
ML/EH/028/09: Notification of transfer of enfrocement functions for IR(ME)R to Healthcare Inspectorate Wales
Joint letter from the Chief Medical Officer/Chief Scientific Adviser/ Chief Dental Officer on the Transfer of the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations Enforcement Programme to Healthcare Inspectorate Wales