Answer to Question #11298 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Nuclear Medicine Patient Issues — Diagnostic Nuclear Medicine

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:

Q

If a patient is incontinent and undergoes a diagnostic nuclear medicine study, do I have to worry about exposure from cleaning up an accident if they wet the bed? What if they undergo a positron emission tomography (PET) scan?

A

The simple answer to this question is "no," assuming one uses disposable gloves when cleaning up the soiled linen. This would be the case for either typical nuclear medicine diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals or PET radiopharmaceuticals. It would be advisable to contact your radiation safety officer (RSO) regarding what to do with the soiled linen.
 
The radioactive material will decay away fairly rapidly, but your RSO may want to store that linen for a couple of days before it goes to the laundry.
 
Likewise, any cleaning materials (e.g., paper towels used to clean the vinyl mattress surface) simply should be placed in a plastic bag, and the RSO or the nuclear medicine department will likely take that and store it until the radioactivity decays away.
 
Mack L. Richard, MS, CHP

Ask the Experts is posting answers using only SI (the International System of Units) in accordance with international practice. To convert these to traditional units we have prepared a conversion table. You can also view a diagram to help put the radiation information presented in this question and answer in perspective. Explanations of radiation terms can be found here.
Answer posted on 28 August 2015. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.