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Sugarman, Stephen L.*; Toohey, Richard; Goans, Ronald; Christensen, Doran*; Wiley, Albert*

doi: 10.1097/01.HP.0000346797.32153.7d
Session 4. Radionuclide Incorporation Management: Note

It is crucial to integrate health physics into the medical management of radiation illness or injury. The key to early medical management is not necessarily radiation dose calculation and assignment, but radiation dose magnitude estimation. The magnitude of the dose can be used to predict potential biological consequences and the corresponding need for medical intervention. It is, therefore, imperative that physicians and health physicists have the necessary tools to help guide this decision making process. All internal radiation doses should be assigned using proper dosimetry techniques, but the formal internal dosimetry process often takes time that may delay treatment, thus reducing the efficacy of some medical countermeasures. Magnitudes of inhalation or ingestion intakes or intakes associated with contaminated wounds can be estimated by applying simple rules of thumb to sample results or direct measurements and comparing the outcome to known limits for a projection of dose magnitude. Although a United States regulatory unit, the annual limit on intake (ALI) is based on committed dose, and can therefore be used as a comparison point. For example, internal dose magnitudes associated with contaminated wounds can be estimated by comparing a direct wound measurement taken soon after the injury to the product of the ingestion ALI and the associated f1 value (the fractional uptake from the small intestine to the blood). International Commission on Radiation Protection Publication 96, as well as other resources, recommends treatment based on ALI determination. Often, treatment decisions have to be made with limited information. However, one can still perform dose magnitude estimations in order to help effectively guide the need for medical treatment by properly assessing the situation and appropriately applying basic rules of thumb.

* Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site (REAC/TS), PO Box 117, MS39, Oak Ridge, TN 37831; Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), PO Box 117, Oak Ridge, TN 37831; REAC/TS and MJW Corporation, 1900 Sweet Home Road, Amherst, NY 14228.

For correspondence contact: Stephen L. Sugarman, Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site (REAC/TS), PO Box 117, MS39, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 18 February 2009)

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