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MEDICAL HEALTH PHYSICS: A REVIEW

Vetter, Richard J.*

Review Article

Medical health physics is the profession dedicated to the protection of healthcare providers, members of the public, and patients from unwarranted radiation exposure. Medical health physicists must be knowledgeable in the principles of health physics and in the applications of radiation in medicine. Advances in medical health physics require the definition of problems, testing of hypotheses, and gathering of evidence to defend changes in health physics practice and to assist medical practitioners in making changes in their practices as appropriate. Advances in radiation medicine have resulted in new modalities and procedures, some of which have significant potential to cause serious harm. Examples included in this review include radiologic procedures that require very long fluoroscopy times, radiolabeled monoclonal antibodies, and intravascular brachytherapy. This review summarizes evidence that supports changes in consensus recommendations, regulations, and health physics practices associated with recent advances in radiology, nuclear medicine, and radiation oncology. Medical health physicists must continue to gather evidence to support intelligent but practical methods for protection of personnel, the public, and patients as modalities and applications evolve in the practice of medicine.

* Radiation Safety Office, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905.

For correspondence or reprints contact: the author at the above address, or email at rvetter@mayo.edu.

(Manuscript received 10 December 2003; accepted 28 January 2004)

©2005Health Physics Society