The use of radiation in medicine has been an important tool in diagnosing and treating patients for over a century. For instance, radiation is used in x-ray medical imaging and cancer-treating radiotherapy.
Exposure to radiation can harm the health of both patients and medical staff however. With human exposure to ionising radiation in medicine exceeding that of any other man-made source, it is important to have safety standards in place.
Basic safety standards
Under the Euratom Treaty, the European Commission is responsible for the protection of patients and other individuals in the medical practice. It does this by consistently updating the Basic Safety Standards Directive which regulates, among others, the safe use of ionising radiation in medical applications.
The Commission also issues non-binding recommendations and communications. The Commission's 2010 Communication addressed two problem areas:
- the protection of patients and medical staff from radiation
- the supply of radioisotopes for nuclear medicine
The European Commission has issued publications on radiation protection since 1976.