Medical administrations of radiopharmaceuticals, sealed sources, and external beam radiation therapy must be performed under the prescription and supervision of an authorized user physician. Radiopharmaceuticals are radioactive drugs, which, following administration, undergo distribution, metabolism, and/or excretion from the body. Sealed radioactive sources consist of radioactive material permanently bonded or fixed in a capsule or matrix designed to prevent the release, dispersal, or metabolism of the radioactive material. Sealed sources are typically inserted into a body cavity or surgically implanted into body tissues. Sealed source implants can be either temporary or permanent. External beam radiation therapy consists of radiation delivered from radioactive material sources or radiation producing machines that are external to the body.
Diagnostic administrations of radiopharmaceuticals for PET scans involve the injection of a relatively small dosage (typically <30 mCi) of a radiopharmaceutical for the purpose of imaging and/or measuring the function of a body organ. PET radiopharmaceutical administrations can be performed on an outpatient basis. Care of hospitalized patients undergoing PET radiopharmaceutical administrations normally require no special radiation safety precautions beyond utilizing universal precautions when handling blood or other body fluids and excretions.
Therapeutic administrations for the purpose of treating a disease or condition include: the injection or ingestion of a relatively large dosage (typically >30 mCi) of a radiopharmaceutical; the temporary or permanent implant of a radioactive sealed source (brachytherapy, HDR); or the administration of external beam radiation. Therapeutic administrations of radioactive materials and radiation require observance of specified radiation safety precautions.