GeneralClinical Practice

Management of Ionizing Radiation Injuries and Illnesses, Part 2: Nontherapeutic Radiologic/Nuclear Incidents

Doran M. Christensen, DO; Steven J. Parillo, DO; Erik S. Glassman, EMT-P, MS; and Stephen L. Sugarman, MS
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: April 30, 2013

Accepted: August 16, 2013

Published: May 1, 2014

J Osteopath Med; 114(5): 383-389

In the second of 5 articles on the management of injuries and illnesses caused by ionizing radiation, the authors discuss nontherapeutic radiologic/nuclear incidents: use of a radiologic exposure device, use of a radiologic dispersal device, nuclear power plant safety failure, and detonation of an improvised nuclear device. The present article focuses on how such incidents—whether involving deliberate or accidental methods of radiation exposure—produce casualties and how physicians need to understand the pathologic process of injuries caused by these incidents. To identify the diagnoses associated with nontherapeutic exposure in time to improve morbidity and mortality, physicians must maintain a high index of suspicion when faced with a specific constellation of symptoms. In some scenarios, the sheer number of uninjured, unaffected persons who might present to health care institutions or professionals may be overwhelming. Public health and safety issues may seriously disrupt the ability to respond to and recover from a radiologic and nuclear incident, especially a nuclear detonation.

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