When following diagnostic radioisotope procedures, UK legislation requires that we advise patients to avoid close contact with children [1, 2]. How does this advice affect the average nuclear medicine patient? Over a 4 month period, 90 patients in contact with children were asked about their home circumstances, how they coped with avoidance of close contact and the problems caused. On average, the patients were in contact with two children with a mean age of 7 years. Thirty-nine per cent of patients spent < 5 h per day and 30% between 5 and 10 h per day in close contact. However, 13% spent 20–24 h in close contact with children. For most patients (55%), it is easy to avoid close contact, but 25% found it difficult or very difficult. The average in-patient received one visit a day from children of 0.5–1 h duration and 65% of children sat on the patient's bed. Restriction of visits was a problem for 14% of patients. Initially, over one-third of the out-patients felt a medium level of anxiety or higher regarding close contact with children. Given more detailed written information and the opportunity to discuss any queries with a member of staff (70% wished to do so), the proportion fell to less than one-tenth. We found it important to question patients carefully, because home circumstances and levels of close contact cannot be deduced from the age of the child or the relationship between the child and the patient.
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