General Policies

Some patients who received therapeutic doses of liquid radiopharmaceuticals must remain under the control of the licensed facility (2). In these cases, the person in charge of the radiation safety program (usually designated as the radiation safety officer) would be notified immediately—that is, prior to release of the deceased to a morgue or funeral home. The radiation safety officer or designee attaches a tag to the dead body indicating that it is radioactive and stating whether special precautions are necessary (Fig. 13-1). Other patients who have received therapeutic activities can—under appropriate conditions—be released immediately from a licensed facility (2). Administration of liquid radiopharmaceuticals for diagnostic purposes rarely requires that patients remain under the control of a licensed facility. Diagnostic procedures are outpatient procedures and under normal circumstances, patients are not considered a hazard to other members of the public.

Patients with radioactive implants (radioactive material in a solid form) may or may not be under the control of a licensed facility. If they die while in a facility, the implant generally will be removed prior to release of the body. The deceased is no longer radioactive after removal of the implant and thus, no special precautions are required while working on or around it. If patients with permanent radioactive implants are released from a medical facility (3), radiation exposure from these per sons is not considered hazardous to the general public. However, family members are instructed to contact the prescribing radiation oncologist if the patient dies at home or in another hospital to assure that appropriate measures are taken with regard to the implant.

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