Society News Archive

22 February 2011
NRC Issues New Guidance on Release of Patients Following Iodine Treatment for Thyroid Conditions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued new guidance to medical licensees concerning outpatient treatment of thyroid patients with iodine-131 (I-131), strongly discouraging doctors from recommending patients stay at hotels immediately after treatment.

The guidance responds to continuing concerns that thyroid patients, who typically remain radioactive for a few days following administration of I-131, sometimes check into hotels or motels instead of going home, raising the potential that other people—especially hotel workers and guests—may unknowingly be exposed to radiation.

“There is no evidence that patients treated with radioactive iodine pose any significant health or safety risk to members of the public,” said Robert J. Lewis, director of the NRC’s Division of Materials Safety and State Agreements. “However, it is the NRC’s goal to limit unnecessary radiation exposure to anyone to the greatest degree possible, and it is the doctor’s responsibility to instruct the patient on how to achieve that.”