Category: Medical Physics

05 Jan 2023

A Year in Review & New Resolutions

Coming full circle to another new year invigorates millions. It is a time to reflect and develop goals for a better self, career, or quality of life. Versant Medical Physics & Radiation Safety also looks eagerly into 2023 and new opportunities of growth. We strive to provide our services to continuously benefit existing or future clients—even while appreciating our building-block actions of 2022. Even as our teams replace calendars in the office and spread poor puns about not seeing each other since last year, we shape our goals to provide exceptional support for healthcare providers to ensure safe workplaces and practices:

Remaining at the Forefront of Medical Physics and Radiation Safety

Sometimes the best resolution is to maintain healthy habits achieved from the year before. Versant Physics will continue its focus on sustaining its status as a trusted, knowledgeable business. Our consulting services demonstrate excellence within medical physics and radiation safety and will continue to in 2023. This involves keeping up with new discoveries in science, seeking value-add opportunities, and ensuring our provided support is top quality. It is with this idea that we strive to keep our competitive edge in all aspects.

Maintaining an edge means aligning ourselves with strong sources when the chances arise. In the past year, Versant acquired Radiological Physics Services, Inc (RPS) and completed a business merger with Grove Physics, Inc. We were excited to welcome Joseph Mahoney from Grove Physics as the new Vice President of Diagnostic Physics. Additionally, Versant brought in the talents of Ray Carlson and his team within RPS. The overall consolidation of these companies’ resources with Versant’s has increased services towards our clients. We are enthusiastic about efficiently using these combined assets to their full potential in 2023.

Another constituent to higher performance levels becoming achievable in the new year is that Versant Medical Physics achieved their ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification in 2022. This certification demonstrates our dedication to being a trusted source. Not only can we be sought for our expertise in the field, but now to maintain personal information and customer data through even better safeguards in 2023. Being certified for strict security and compliance standards allows for peace of mind to clients using our Odyssey software; the protection of which is performed by our own security management team.

Versant Medical Physics and Radiation Safety ISO/IEC 27001:2013 Certification

As a web-based, modern management system, Odyssey’s enhanced security is not its only feature that is being refined. Odyssey is kept as a radiation software suite that our clients can trust for the central administration of radiation safety programs. This is accomplished by our development team’s dedication to the software’s continuous improvement based off internal and external feedback. Radiation safety programs can quickly become complex and difficult to manage for healthcare companies, large or small. In addition to Versant’s experienced personnel, Odyssey provides clients an all-in-one platform to manage their program more easily and effectively. Within 2023, Versant’s development team will be focusing on projects to publish customizable reports. They will also revamp the centralized audit logging in Odyssey as part of software enhancement requests received through the feedback system.  

Radiation Safety Implementation and Maintenance

Radiation safety has an extensive list of requirements and regulations set through organizations such as the NRC. The necessity of radiation safety programs is unquestionable when working with radioactive substances or ionizing radiation generating equipment. However, the issue remains that implementation and maintenance of these programs can become complicated fast. In 2023, Versant Medical Physics will assist healthcare providers simplify program compliance, protecting their employees and overall business.

Versant provides a variety of services, from dosimetry management to the support of our physicists, Radiation Safety Officers, and specialists. These professionals’ collective years of experience range over key modalities of radiation safety:

  • Any company—regardless of size—can run their badge program through our dosimetry monitoring services. Doing so assures access to our competent technical support team that can accommodate any company’s needs. Dosimetry badge management is top priority for this team to make your program easier to handle. The support team provides technical and customer service to your employees, so they understand best practices for the dosimeters they wear and to simplify compliance. This lets your employees quickly get back to what they do best: providing healthcare to those who need it.
  • Versant Medical Physics has board-certified physicists that cover regulatory and diagnostic services across the board. Versant’s physicists are driven to provide top-tier assistance so that our clients meet regulatory guidelines and ALARA fundamentals easily to protect people: employees, patients, and the general population. We will continue to achieve this in 2023 through provision of full-service support for your company’s radiation safety program’s crucial areas. These services can include but are not limited to equipment testing, radiation shielding and design, and comprehensive audits.

Medical Physics and Radiation Safety Certification and Training Support

Another component of medical physics and radiation safety is requirement (depending on role) of being certified for one’s work. Certifications in this field surround topics such as radioactive material handling in a continually evolving medical field. Our online continuing education training courses are available at any time to earn certifications approved by AAHP and ASRT. Many professionals within the medical physics and radiation safety fields need continuing education credits; this can be for compliance purposes or to take on new responsibilities within their company. In addition to providing support for our clients, Versant provides certified courses such as

  • Medical Radiation Safety Officer (MRSO) Training – Compliance knowledge and lectures provided to learn day-to-day requirements for a new Medical RSO. This course has been complimented for its clarity and precision of material.
  • Medical X-Ray Radiation Safety Training – Designed for anyone managing a radiation safety program or working with radiative machines in a medical environment. This course is practical and informative to prepare for any inspection.
  • Fluoroscopy Courses – Safety training that details optimization of fluoroscopy techniques while maintaining ALARA practices. This course has been recognized by previous customers for being comprehensive with employable practices.
  • Department of Transportation (DOT) Training – A combination of safety training for radioactive material transport and general handling. Usable for anyone within the shipping process such as technologists.

Our board-certified physicists are available through online communication to assist with questions or understanding of the content. This ensures that students feel supported through the process. By the end, each student can walk away with an accredited certification for the betterment of their career. Versant Medical Physics will ensure this content reaches as many people as possible to deepen their knowledge base in 2023.

Connecting and Sharing Ideas

Over the last decades, social media became an increasingly significant channel of communication for businesses. As a platform to promote their services and generate brand, companies connect in fashions more popular with the public. Although Versant has seen increases in our reach through social media followings and to the visitors of our website, there are still opportunities to further connect with our fellow companies, clients, and acquaintances within the medical physics and radiation safety fields.

In 2023, Versant Physics will bring a stronger focus into revitalizing our most popular channels for engaging content: our blog and podcast. Versant’s blog is a space for informational posts about radiation in the world and its various practices/safe handling in healthcare, as well as general tutorials on our Odyssey software. With the VersantCast Podcast, hosted by our very own medical physicist, Dr. Eric Ramsay, we take our listeners through various topics surrounding radiation, physics, and healthcare with the expansive knowledge of special guests. We are excited to work back into periodic postings and create subject matter that informs, inspires, and educates both readers and listeners alike.

Versant will also strive to further our network through our most popular social media platforms, being LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Even as a small company in a niche field, social media gives us the opportunity to connect with other people and businesses within the medical physics and radiation safety industry. Creating spaces to share ideas and new discoveries in science are beneficial to us as well as our followers to further our security in the knowledge surrounding the many fields that handle radiation. To join Versant in our goal to be more connected within the industry, you can follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

A Leadership Team that Inspires

Our devoted leadership team’s optimistic goals have shaped the future of Versant Medical Physics since 2016 to bring today’s success. Closing out our list of resolutions, our members of leadership provided what they strive to see to fruition in 2023:

Marcie Ramsay – President, CEO

“As president, I hope to continue providing a positive and supportive workplace environment for our professionals. The new year will also bring the opportunity for me to encourage our team to explore new areas of personal interest and work-life balance through Versant Physics’ recent subscription to the online education platform, MasterClass. On a personal note, I intend to devote more time to daily meditation and reflection.”  

Eric Ramsay – Vice President, Commissioning

“Techniques for treatment in Radiation Therapy get more complex each year. Keeping up one’s knowledge base and gaining expertise in new modalities is challenging with a busy schedule. So, a suitable (and frankly, essential) resolution for the new year will be to focus on continuing education and professional development. This involves staying up to date with the latest research and techniques in the field, attending conferences and workshops, as well as seeking out opportunities for collaboration and networking with other professionals including the staff physicists at Versant. This resolution also includes taking steps to maintain a healthy work-life balance as burn out doesn’t help anyone.”

Ben Ramsay – Vice President, Technology & Finance

“Continue to develop a security mindset. With the increase in cyberattacks globally, and the risks internal and external to Versant, establishing a security-focused mindset is one of our goals in line with our ISO 27001 certification. I will also be focusing on improvement of Odyssey usability for existing clients and ways to bundle the software into our services with non-Odyssey customers that will provide enhanced value. Lastly, Versant will benefit from focuses on cross training staff in 2023 so that we are more flexible and capable of maintaining the highest levels of service possible.”

Joseph Mahoney – Vice President, Diagnostic Physics

“In 2023, I will be aiming for improved frequency and clarity of our client communication. Staying up to date and responsive towards the ever-changing regulatory environment will also allow for a strong start into the new year. Aligning with Versant’s desire for our teams to maintain work-life balances, there will be a strong focus in optimization of physical presence for our staff of physicists in geographic regions only where they are most needed so that they all can get back home more often.”  

Cheers to a productive and exciting 2023!

01 Jun 2022
diagnostic imaging procedure

Diagnostic Medical Physics in Medicine: Why It’s Important

Many are unfamiliar with the important role that diagnostic medical physics plays in medicine, particularly in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases like cancer.

At Versant Physics, we provide a wide range of diagnostic medical physics services that help healthcare facilities safely and effectively execute procedures for the health and well-being of their patients. Our goal is to help facilities ensure their patients are protected from excessive levels of radiation and that diagnostic equipment is working appropriately, all while maintaining compliance with state and federal regulations.

In this blog post, we’ll break down what diagnostic imaging is, how and why physics principles are applied to diagnostic medicine, and the various roles of a diagnostic medical physicist to help clarify the importance of this profession.

What is Diagnostic Imaging?

Diagnostic Imaging is a range of techniques and equipment used to look inside the body. The purpose of this is to help physicians identify injuries and illnesses, and to help make an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. This can include a variety of procedures, from simple X-rays for broken bones to more complex procedures involving the brain, heart, or lungs.

Diagnostic imaging procedures are usually painless and noninvasive. However, depending on the test being performed, some patients may be exposed to small amounts of radiation.

diagnostic medical physics

CT scans are a common example of a diagnostic imaging test that emits radiation. In a CT scan, the patient is exposed to a series of X-rays from a variety of angles which are then processed via a computer. The computer creates cross-sectional images of the inside of the body. CT scans are higher-quality images than a normal X-ray and allow physicians to view both hard and soft tissues in the body. They can check for stroke, internal bleeding, chest abnormalities, enlarged lymph nodes, abdominal or pelvic pain, tumors, and more. It is also used to monitor existing diseases such as heart disease and cancer. 

Other common diagnostic imaging procedures include mammography, which helps detect and diagnose breast cancer, fluoroscopy, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasounds.  

Diagnostic Physics and Medicine

Medical physics as a field is divided into five categories, including:

  • nuclear medicine
  • therapeutic medical physics,
  • medical health physics,
  • magnetic resonance imaging physics, and
  • diagnostic imaging.

Diagnostic medical physicists are responsible for ensuring the safe and effective application of radiation used in medical treatments. Specifically, radiology procedures. They work as a member of a patient’s care team, which typically includes physicians, dosimetrists, and radiologic technologists among others.

Equipment Evaluation and Compliance

One of the main roles of a diagnostic medical physicist is to ensure the safe operation of radiation-producing machines and diagnostic radiation detectors. This can include developing imaging equipment specifications, measuring the radiation produced by a piece of equipment prior to clinical use, and proving that the equipment is compliant with regulatory and accreditation requirements.

This also includes assessing all the software, algorithms, data, and computer systems associated with the radiation-producing equipment for accuracy and performance.

Acceptance Testing

Any unit that is used in a diagnostic setting must be periodically reviewed to ensure not only that the image quality is maintained, but that the unit is operating in compliance with the manufacturer’s specifications.

Most states require that a newly installed piece of diagnostic imaging equipment, whether it is brand new or used, be tested by a qualified medical physicist prior to first clinical use. This extremely thorough survey confirms that the unit was installed and set up correctly and ensures that it meets vendor and industry performance standards. It is also an opportunity to identify any potential issues with the unit before it is used on patients.

mammography unit

Typical units that require acceptance testing include fluoroscopic x-rays, radiographic x-rays, PET and PET/CT units, mammography equipment, C-arms, CTs, SPECT cameras, and PACS workstations.

Commissioning

The commissioning process for diagnostic radiation therapy machines such as Linear Accelerators involves testing the unit’s functionality and verifying that dose calculation algorithms work appropriately to produce measured dose calculations.  

Radiation-producing equipment like a LINAC is highly technical and specific. There are many requirements and protocols that detail how this unit should work, from how much energy it produces to the shape and direction of the beam. Diagnostic medical physicists are trained to measure, assess, and implement the optimal baseline values for a unit during the commissioning process.

Patient safety is the end goal of all diagnostic physics commissioning work.

Shielding

Another important aspect of diagnostic physics includes the planning and placement of shielding in areas that use radiation. In the United States, 35+ states require specific shielding designs in any room that houses radiation-producing equipment.

A diagnostic medical physicist can evaluate any shielding that is installed to determine if it will adequately protect workers, patients, and the public from the radiation outside of the scope of a specific treatment. This includes planning for material thickness as well as appropriate placement.

Versant Physics physicists are experienced with a range of equipment shielding requirements, including dental units, Cone-beam CTs, mobile c-arms, high-energy LINACS, Proton Therapy units, and Cyclotrons.

Our team is also experienced with different types of shielding materials, including non-lead materials, which are guaranteed to meet regulatory guidelines and ALARA principles.

Patient Dose & Treatment

Part of a diagnostic physicist’s job is also to ensure the safety of medical imaging modalities being applied in the treatment of individual patients.

They are responsible for determining the exact radiation dose a patient will receive in accordance with the radiation oncologist’s prescription before the patient begins treatment. Creating this therapy plan can take a few hours or multiple days, depending on the complexity of the illness. They also ensure radiation protection guidelines are in place, develop QA tools that ensure optimal image quality, and make sure that all operators are trained in the use of the best imaging techniques.

A diagnostic medical physicist may also monitor the dose of the patient throughout the course of their treatment.

Patients rarely interact directly with the medical physicist on their care team; however, they are a vital part of a safe and effective treatment process.

Versant Physics Diagnostic Support

Our board-certified physicists are able to handle diagnostic physics support for a variety of facilities, including hospitals, clinics, dental offices, and university health systems. With decades of experience, top-of-the-line equipment, and a passion for patient safety, our team is the best choice to assist with your diagnostic medical physics needs.

Contact us for a quote or to learn more about our medical physics support services.

12 Aug 2021

A Step-by-Step Guide to Implementing a Radiation Safety Program

Implementing a radiation safety program is the best way to protect radiation workers and maintain safe radiological conditions in your clinic or university. If you are a new facility starting from scratch, implementing a radiation safety program can be an overwhelming task. We have put together a step-by-step guide to help clarify areas you will need to address.

Who Regulates What?

It is important for any new radiation safety program to understand which regulations to follow. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is responsible for regulating radioactive materials in the United States. However, they do not regulate radioactive material in any of the 37 Agreement States. These Agreement States have signed agreements with the state’s governor and the chair of the NRC that declare they take responsibility for all radioactive material regulation within the state. Agreement States can set their own rules for how radiation is monitored, handled, and used if they are at least as strict as the NRC.

Each state regulates the use of ionizing radiation generating equipment within the state. It is very important to research your individual state regulations.

For a list of individual state radiation control programs and their specific rules and regulations, we recommend visiting the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD) website.

Step 1: Identify a Radiation Safety Officer

A Radiation Safety Officer is a required element of a radiation safety program.

According to AAPM Report 160, the RSO in a radiation safety program “is responsible for the implementation, coordination, and day-to-day oversight of the radiation protection program.” An RSO enforces policies and procedures regarding radiation safety and ensures the facility’s use of ionizing radiation is compliant with regulatory requirements, whether that be state or federal. These individuals are required to meet certain education, training, and experience requirements to assume the role.

The responsibilities of the RSO are many. In addition to managing the radiation safety program, this person will:

  • Provide advice and assistance on radiological safety matters,
  • Ensure safe use of radioactive materials,
  • Ensure compliance with regulatory and license requirements,
  • Identify radiation safety problems and correct them,
  • Ensure ALARA practices are enforced,
  • Perform audits and surveys of work areas as necessary,
  • Dose monitoring,
  • Instrument calibration,
  • And more.

Step 2: Get Copies of State and Federal Regulations

Federal regulations can be found on the NRC website. As mentioned above, most states have their own regulatory body. This may also be a good time to contact your state regulator and introduce yourself.

Step 3: Set-up Administrative Documents & QA Program

You will want to lay out the various roles in your radiation safety program in an organization chart. This includes management, IT, radiation safety resources, and additional radiation modalities and departments.

It will also be helpful to create a Standard Operating Procedure Manual on radiation protection that describes emergency procedures, training policies, and credentialing all radiation workers should be familiar with.

Step 4: Establish a Radiation Safety Committee

A radiation safety committee is typically made up of:

  • The RSO,
  • An authorized user of each type of use permitted by the license,
  • A nursing representative, and
  • A representative who is neither an authorized user nor the RSO.

Many universities and larger clinics find an RSC helpful for efficient radiation safety program management. However, they are not always mandatory depending on your use of radiation. You may find a radiation safety committee is not necessary for your facility.

Step 5: X-ray Room Shielding

Radiation Worker Behind Shielding

Facilities that utilize radiation are required to have a shielding plan developed by a qualified expert, such as a medical physicist. Most states also require the shielding plan to be submitted to the state before the equipment can be used.  

When setting up a radiation safety program, it will be necessary to contact an appropriate QE to put together the shielding plan. You will work with them to implement the appropriate materials and signage throughout your facility. Afterward, integrity and regulatory surveys must be performed to ensure compliance with area dose limits.

Step 6: Registration of Radiation Machines & RAM License Application

A new facility with new X-ray equipment must register each unit with the state, typically within 30 days of acquiring the unit. The use of X-ray-producing equipment is regulated on a state-by-state basis. The appropriate forms and required supporting documentation can be found on your state’s regulatory website or by contacting your regulator.

A new facility intending to use radioactive material must apply to either their Agreement State or the NRC for approval. In preparation for submitting the application, all the previous steps should be completed. Many of the items above will be reviewed along with the license application to determine approval status.

Note that some states may require radiation-producing machines to be inspected regularly by state-approved qualified experts to maintain a registration.

Step 7: Set-up a Personnel Monitoring Program

Licensees/Registrants are required to monitor radiation exposure of radiation workers to remain in compliance with occupational dose limits.

Instadose+ Dosimeter

It is important to set up a personnel monitoring program for radiation workers who regularly work with or could encounter radiation while on the job. These programs require personnel to wear a dosimeter badge which measures their total received exposure. RSO’s periodically review the personnel exposures.

There are a variety of dosimeter options available including TLDs, ring badges, and badges that provide on-demand dose reads.

Step 8: Recordkeeping

Implementing a radiation safety program means there will not be existing inspection reports, previous audits, or correspondence with regulators on file to familiarize yourself with. However, as the RSO, you will be responsible for maintaining all records regarding personnel exposure, exposure levels to the public, surveys, calibrations, and any maintenance completed on the facility’s X-ray equipment moving forward. Consult your state regulations to determine how long individual records need to be kept.

Conclusion

While there are many moving parts to setting up a radiation safety program, it is an important aspect of a safe workplace. Following these steps will have you well on your way to leading a successful program.

Our experienced radiation safety officers, health physicists, and medical physicists can help you implement a radiation safety program. Contact sales@versantphysics.com to be connected with a physicist or visit our regulatory page for more information.

Interested in becoming a Radiation Safety Officer yourself? Versant Physics offers a 20-hour online Medical Radiation Safety Officer course that teaches how to implement a successful, compliant radiation safety program. It will help you gain a practical understanding of regulations governing the safe use of radiation-emitting machines and radioactive materials, as well as responsibilities for managing radiation safety in a medical setting.

11 May 2020

International Medical Physics Week

This year, medical physicists around the world celebrate the first ever International Medical Physics Week (IMPW). As some of you may already know, medical physicists also celebrate an International Day of Medical Physics (IDMP) on November 7th. The International Organization for Medical Physics (IOMP) organizes and promotes both, with the intention of enhancing the field’s importance, increasing awareness about the role medical physicists play in the lives of patients, and increasing implementation of programs. In honor of the first ever IMPW there are planned activities around the world, including virtual educational sessions, social media chats and campaigns, and a daily webinar on topics ranging from diagnostic imaging and nuclear medicine to Monte Carlo modeling.

As I reflect on what it means to be a part of the global community of medical physicists, I am truly humbled by the spectrum of expertise that we have. Just by glancing at the topics covered in the webinars, it is abundantly clear that the medical physics contribution to the healthcare field is much larger than what each of us do on a daily basis. In part, this week is important because it gives us an opportunity to connect with and learn from one another. The fact that we all have a unique and valuable perspective to offer one another has been the single most important takeaway from my time as a resident medical physicist.

Cynthia McCullough, President of the AAPM, and guest speaker Amy Lynch covered this topic well in the President’s Symposium at the 2019 AAPM Annual Meeting. They both spoke about the importance of diversity, though not only in the most common ways you may expect. Amy Lynch specifically covered the topic of generational diversity, and said, “we have to step up and work with generational intelligence and intellectual humility in order to come up with the very best ideas.” Easier said than done!

Despite the challenge, I think that this concept can be applied even more broadly in the context of medical physics. Recent articles in Medical Physics and the Journal of Applied Clinical Medical Physics feature discussions among physicists who see our roles changing drastically in the coming years. Advances in automation will likely challenge us to work more closely with software engineers and IT professionals. Changes in reimbursement models have the potential to allow us to work more closely with physicians. How are we to handle this? I hope that we can take it in stride and adapt, recognizing that the collection of different perspectives will move the field of medical physics forward.

Perhaps, at the very least, this week will give us an opportunity to tell yet another family member or friend what a medical physicist does. Or, we could look at our first IMPW as a challenge to continue developing this great field we are a part of, by connecting with one another. I encourage us all to seek out a new interest in the broader discipline of medical physics, take an online course, listen to a webinar you might not usually join, or maybe simply ask for a fresh opinion on a process you’ve always done a certain way. Happy IMPW!

For more information about IMPW or a list of activities and participants, visit https://www.iomp.org/impw/.
Versant Physics logo

Forum Article "Radiopharmaceutical Extravasation: Pragmatic Radiation Protection" published ahead of print

An article written by Versant team members Dr. Darrell R. Fisher, Ph.D. and Misty Liverett, M.S., CNMT was recently published ahead of print in Health Physics. The article provides an unbiased, scientific assessment of pragmatic and reasonable health physics actions that should be taken in response to inadvertent extravasation events. Click the link below to view the article.

Permits

THE PERMISSION SYSTEM FOR INVENTORY TRACKING, MACHINE MANAGEMENT & EQUIPMENT CATALOG MODULES

Permit Profile

Each permit has a dedicated profile of information that includes authorized personnel, radioactive material, machines, and devices. Permit conditions, completed audits, and forms are also found on this profile.

Authorized Condition Database

Create and view authorized conditions included on permits. Previously created authorized conditions are listed with their code, category, and description.

Permit Enforcement

Information specified on a permit not only serves as a record of that permit, but also controls what can be added to other modules. The location, owner and type of radioactive materials, machines, and equipment can be enforced by permits.

Permit Audits

Perform permit audits, mail the results to relevant personnel, and track responses to non-compliances.