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HIQA announces new ionising radiation expert advisory group to begin work

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has announced the commencement of a new Medical Exposures to Ionising Radiation (MEIR) Expert Advisory Group (EAG). The EAG will support HIQA in its forthcoming role as the authority responsible for the justification of new practices within the field of ionising radiation.

Ionising radiation is used to help diagnose ailments such as broken bones and treat certain medical conditions, for example cancer. Although the risks associated with ionising radiation are generally considered low, all medical exposures carry some risk. European and Irish legislation has been published, which aims to protect service users from the dangers of ionising radiation from medical sources. HIQA is responsible for regulating medical exposures to ionising radiation – part of this role includes evaluating evidence about medical practices which use ionising radiation.

HIQA is responsible for justifying new practices that involve exposing patients to ionising radiation. Those wishing to provide these new practices will be required to apply to HIQA for generic justification before the practice is adopted for use in broad categories of patients.

HIQA will also consider the justification of existing practices if new and significant information becomes available about the effectiveness or safety of the practice itself or about alternative practices that could replace it. The new advisory group will support HIQA in its role. Members of the EAG include representatives of patient organisations, regulatory authorities and key professional bodies.

HIQA has appointed Professor Mary Coffey as an independent chairperson to the EAG. Professor Coffey has extensive experience in MEIR, having been involved in the development of the national plan for radiation oncology in Ireland, the founding of a European system for reporting and analysis of radiation oncology incidents (ROESIS), and the development of curricula for radiation therapists, guidelines for education and practical application in clinical audit and quality, and risk management.

Dr Patricia Harrington, Deputy Director of Health Technology Assessment, said: “We are delighted to be moving forward with the new function for ionising radiation within HIQA. Along with work already being undertaken by HIQA in this area, it will help promote better, safer practice across all service providers using medical exposures in Ireland. The first MEIR EAG meeting represents a significant milestone in this journey, and we look forward to what is to come.”

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