Patient service and safety
The medical physics profession is directed at ensuring a high quality service in the use of medical devices and the protection of patients from physical agents in particular ionising radiation. This protection is outlined in European and National legislation which follows the ethical principles of justification, optimisation and limitation. It is through this fundamental legal responsibility that other responsibilities emerge.
In line with Legal Notice 210 of 2018, a hospital must determine the radiation dose delivered to the patient. The process is called dosimetry, where a practical measure of human exposure to ionising radiation is determined. It is the hospital’s legal responsibility to ensure that any unnecessary radiation dose to any patient is avoided.
Technical specification of medical device systems and facilities
Medical physicists are stakeholders during the drafting of technical specifications. They provide advice on physics, radiation safety and image quality related advice regarding systems that are to be used for radio-diagnostic imaging or that employ radiation or radioactive sources for therapeutic purposes or to assist in interventional procedures.
Acceptance testing of medical devices
Following installation of new or major modifications of existing systems, medical physicists carry out testing to verify that specifications outlined in the tender document are achieved by the system. Medical physicists also assess the system complies with international and European standards.
Systems are accepted only when the results of these tests are satisfactory.
Commissioning of medical devices
Following acceptance, medical physicists work with radiologists, radiographers and applications specialists to set up clinical protocols that are suitable for the intended practice. When these protocols are finalised, medical physicists establish extensive baseline measurements. Future testing will be compared to this baseline. Such a comparison is critical to ensuring a quality service. A commissioned system is one that is prepared for clinical use on patients.
Quality control and assurance of medical devices
Medical physicists are responsible for defining and carrying out quality assurance tests as part of a broader quality assurance programme. These tests are designed to assess the various clinically relevant parameters of the system in order to be able to detect faults and errors before they have a deleterious effect on patient service or safety. These tests are designed by medical physicists for medical physicists. Other tests, referred to as constancy tests are simple and quick. They are designed to be carried out more frequently with the assistance of radiographers and other health care professionals for continuous monitoring of each medical device.
Procedure introduction and revision
Medical physicists offer advice and assist in the introduction of new diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. This involves an assessment of risks and best practices to avoid or minimise them.
Currently, there are 3 specialty areas: