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Saturday 26th May 2018

Hospitals to ensure patient safety

14th March 2008

Hospitals in the NHS and the independent sector have been warned they must ensure patients are not exposed to unnecessary radiation through x-rays, CT scans and other procedures.


The first report of its kind on x-ray and radiological incidents from the Healthcare Commission examined 329 incidents reported between November 2006 and December 2007 under the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations (2000).

It found that a third of the errors happened when x-rays and diagnostic examinations were carried out on the wrong patient.

The report also highlights patchy reporting of incidents. Some trusts reported no errors while others had up to 18 within this period.

However, the majority of incidents were of a low dose and carried little risk to patients.

The Commission has made it clear it encourages the reporting of incidents as an indication of a “positive safety culture.?

It is currently inspecting around half of the radiotherapy centres in England and says incidents must be reported where patients experience a dose of radiation “much greater than intended?.

Chief executive Anna Walker said: “The NHS carries out some 25 million x-rays and other procedures using radiation each year – the vast majority of which are carried out safely.

“We applaud those trusts that have reported incidents to us – this shows that they have systems in place for identifying when things go wrong and this is the first step in learning from mistakes.?

But she added that with 300-plus incidents, employers and staff must do all they can to prevent exposing patients to unnecessary radiation.


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