Keep up with changes to radiation regulations
It’s a new year and 2018 has already brought with it amendments to the regulation of ionising radiation that affects all dental practices where x-ray equipment is in use. The latest regulatory changes are the introduction of the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 (IRR17) on 1st January 2018 and, as of 6th February 2018, the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2018 (IR(ME)R18).
Regulations are updated all the time, so it can be an onerous and complicated task for practice teams to ensure that they always remain compliant. It is, however, helpful to know that support is available and keeping abreast of the latest developments can be outsourced to a third party, like DBG.
DBG’s Radiation Protection Consultancy Contract (RPCC), for example, keeps track of the regulation of ionising radiation and provides subscribing practices with access to appropriate advice for the duration of their membership. For instance, member practices are routinely updated on changes as they happen and are informed of any amendments that need to be made to their existing procedures.
In line with this commitment to disseminating important information in a timely manner, a summary of some of the new changes follows.
IRR17 Registration with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
Where, previously, practices were only required to notify the Health and Safety Executive that they use ionising radiation, the new regulations require a more formalised registration. A practice that works with dental x-ray equipment must now pay a fee of £25 and make a one-off online registration by completing a short questionnaire before the end of 5th February 2018. If you own more than one practice, each practice can be included under a single registration. It will only have to be repeated if there are material changes to the practice’s circumstances, for example a relocation or a change to the practice name or ownership.
There are several new requirements to have written procedures in place to report on or record any events involving an exposure to radiation:
- If a practice needs to employ its contingency plan, the circumstances must be recorded along with any measures that are put in place to prevent a recurrence.
- Practices need to estimate and record the dose of radiation that a member of the public is exposed to, relative to the relevant dose limit of 1 mSv per calendar year.
- X-rays should only be carried out if they bring a health benefit to the patient. If this is already the practice’s policy, it should be declared in the practice records.
- Where a carer or comforter is willingly exposed to radiation in order to comfort a patient, procedures to justify the exposure and establish an appropriate dose must be in place. If the practice policy does not allow assistance during x-ray, this should be stated in the practice’s documentation.
- Anyone who is exposed to ionising radiation must be informed of the exposure and made aware of the extent of the dose received. A practice must record and be able to report on details of age and gender of those individuals exposed to medical radio-diagnostic procedures, along with the approximate dose of radiation exposure.
Access to advice
Current regulations already require users of ionising radiation (x-rays) to consult with a suitable Radiation Protection Adviser (RPA). Once IR(ME)R18 comes into force, the appointment of a Medical Physics Expert (MPE) is required. By subscribing to DBG’s RPCC, practices are assigned to DBG’s RPAs and MPEs (Neil Pick and Jonathan Stubbs), who are able to provide advice on ionising radiation, including the prior assessment of plans, measurement and optimisation of patient doses, as well as quality assurance.
Whilst Neil and Jonathan are the main contacts, DBG has entire departments dedicated to the monitoring of UK radiation protection legislation, and supporting Neil and Jonathan, to enable them to respond quickly and effectively to practices’ questions and provide relevant, accurate advice.
DBG’s RPCC gives each practice access to their own online Radiation Protection File, which is designed to guide them through the regulations, and generates automatic alerts when a change is due or comes into force.
RPCC also provides:
- A one-week express service for advice or prior assessment of plans at no extra cost.
- A 72-hour fast-track service for issuance of urgent advice/reports (£70 plus VAT).
- Critical examination and acceptance test reports issued following x-ray equipment installation by engineers from DBG and their partner Dental Directory (within two weeks of relevant documentation being received).
- The issue of a routine survey report at three-yearly test intervals for each X-ray set already installed within the practice, following the performance testing (excludes the cost of the engineers). Routine x-ray testing and safety checks are available via DBG Engineering at an extra cost and members receive preferential rates.
- Advice on the use of handheld dental X-ray sets.
- CBCT X-ray equipment annual quality assurance testing.
A three-year Radiation Protection Consultancy Contract costs £260 (+VAT) for DBG members and £460 (+VAT) for non-members.
For more information on DBG’s RPCC and other compliance services, please call 0800 028 1687, option 1.