Modern Dentist Editorial 2 (19.2.2018)
Following on from the institution of the latest Ionising Radiations Regulations (IRR17) at the beginning of January, the new Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations came into force on the 6th February – IR(ME)R 2017. There are certainly some subtle changes in the legislation – more overt extensions of an employers duties and a greater emphasis on quality assurance programmes for example – however the formalising of the Medical Physics Expert (MPE) role is perhaps one of the more significant aspects.
When IR(ME)R 2000 came into force the regulations defined the Medical Physics Expert (MPE) as; ‘a person who holds a science degree or its equivalent and who is experienced in the application of physics to the diagnostic and therapeutic uses of ionising radiation’, however there was no formal certification or qualification for the MPE role with, in practice (and certainly in the independent sector), a Radiation Protection Adviser (RPA) most likely to act as the MPE as well.
IR(ME)R 2017 now defines a MPE as; an individual or a group of individuals, having the knowledge, training and experience to act or give advice on matters relating to radiation physics applied to exposure, whose competence in this respect is recognised by the Secretary of State; – so now the competence of the MPE will need to be recognised through a formal training and/or certification route.
In consequence, RPA2000 (the assessors of the competence of RPAs) have compiled ‘a list of individuals who have been authorised to act as an MPE’ and they will also help develop the criteria for the assessment and certification of MPEs. It appears that there will now be a ‘grandfather rights’ period during which those on the list will be tasked to provide a portfolio of evidence to confirm their competence in their specific area/s of MPE expertise. Applications for this list closed on the 31st December 2017 and it will be displayed on the RPA2000 website.
In Dentistry there will be a requirement for the MPE to be consulted on keeping doses as low as reasonably practicable to patients – e.g. radiation protection concerning exposures, dosimetry and quality assurance – so make sure that anyone giving you advice in this area (your current RPA for example) is on the list and is therefore entitled under the law to do this.