Externally Contaminated Patients

A patient is externally contaminated when radioactive materials are physically deposited onto the patient's skin or clothing. All victims of radiation accidents should be handled as if contaminated until known otherwise. Upon arrival to the hospital, all patients should be surveyed for contamination. If radiation-monitoring devices are not available, patients should be routinely decontaminated and then surveyed for contamination when monitoring equipment is obtained.

Ihe dose from external contamination to either the patient or the attending medical staff is rarely significant. Spreading the contamination in the environment and the potential of internalization are the main hazards with external contamination. Ihus special precautions are required for receiving and treating these patients. Ihe hospital's radiation response team should be trained in radiation monitoring and decontamination techniques. Specific contamination control principles and physical decontamination techniques are required for the care of these patients ( Table 19.9:5 and Table 19.9:7).

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