Medical radiation exposure
WHO Global Initiative on Radiation Safety in Health Care Settings
The use of radiation in medicine has led to major improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases. Annually, worldwide, more than 3,600 million X-ray examinations are performed, 37 million nuclear medicine procedures are carried out, and 7.5 million radiotherapy treatments are given. As the benefits for patients gain recognition, the use of radiation in medicine increases. While the development of modern health technology makes new applications safer, their inappropriate use can lead to unnecessary or unintended radiation doses, and can cause potential health hazards for patients and staff.
Workshop: Radiation risk communication in paediatric imaging
2 December 2012.
Justification of radiological medical procedures is particularly critical in paediatric health care. Support to health professionals, patients, and families to make informed decisions includes tools for radiation risk communication. Building on the outcome of a workshop held in 2010, WHO hosted an International Workshop on Radiation Risk Communication in Paediatric Imaging on 2nd December 2012 in Bonn, Germany.
WHO is conducting a Global Initiative on Radiation Safety in Health Care Settings to mobilize the health sector towards safe and effective use of radiation in medicine. Focusing on public health aspects related to the risks and benefits of the use of radiation in medicine, this initiative includes activities in the areas of radiation risk assessment, management and communication.
Health professionals generally have a low awareness of radiation doses in radiological medical procedures as well as of the nature and magnitude of the related radiation risks. An area of special concern is the unnecessary use of radiation when clinical evaluation or other imaging modalities could provide an accurate diagnosis. Justification of procedures is particularly critical in paediatric health care. Children are especially vulnerable to environmental threats and have a longer life-span to develop long-term radiation-induced health effects like cancer.