Answer to Question #11441 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
Can we keep two patients in the same iodine-131 (131I) isolation room?
Yes, two patients can occupy one room as long as your radioactive materials license does not prohibit it.
To do this, the radiation safety staff needs to ensure that the dose to all occupants adjacent to all walls does not exceed the U.S. limits on dose to members of the public. The nursing staff is considered occupational workers so their dose must not exceed the facility dose limits. Some facilities have policies that address this.
Compliance with these limits usually requires leaded walls or portable lead shields placed in the room. If there are patients or employees in an adjacent area, the dose 30 centimeters (cm) from the wall of the source of radiation cannot exceed 2 milliroentgens (mR) (0.5 microcoulomb per kilogram [µC kg-1])* in any one hour or 100 millirem (mrem) (1 millisievert [mSv])* for nonoccupational worker exposures for all hospital stays for the calendar year. An occupancy factor can be applied to a supply closet or hallway. The radiation safety staff must document that all radiation limits are met in all areas adjacent to the room.
* The limits are given here in units of mR and mrem (called traditional units) because those are the units used by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Agency. However, the Health Physics Society has adopted the SI (International System) units and these are given in parentheses.
Marcia Hartman, MS