Medical administrations of radiopharmaceuticals 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. Radiopharmaceuticals typically act as tracers of biological function and thereby selectively localize in specific organs and tissues.
Diagnostic administrations typically involve the injection, ingestion, or inhalation 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. Diagnostic administrations of radioactive material can be performed on an outpatient basis. Care of hospitalized patients undergoing diagnostic administrations normally require no special radiation safety precautions beyond utilizing universal precautions when handling blood or other body fluids and excretions.
Therapeutic administrations generally involve the injection or ingestion of a relatively large dosage (typically >30 mCi) of a radiopharmaceutical or the temporary or permanent implant of a sealed radioactive source for the purpose of treating a disease or condition. In general, most therapeutic administrations of radioactive materials require observance of specified radiation safety precautions.