Packages Delivered to 3 Hospitals Were Contaminated

A company that supplies medical isotopes to McGill University Health Centre hospitals is facing the possibility of fines while the federal nuclear safety commission investigates how 10 packages it delivered in August were found to be contaminated with radiation.
An event report recently released by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) states the “event had a negligible effect on the health or workers (at the hospitals) and the public” and had “no impact on the environment.” However, the report criticizes the company, Isologic Innovative Radiopharmaceuticals Ltd., for continuing to deliver contaminated packages for two days — to the Montreal General and Montreal Children’s Hospitals — after being advised three of four packages they delivered to the Royal Victoria Hospital, on Aug. 12, were contaminated.

The same report states the company contravened CNSC regulations by taking two days to report the first contaminated shipment to them when such incidents are supposed to be reported to the regulatory body immediately. In all, Isologic delivered 15 packages to the three hospitals between Aug. 12 and Aug. 14, and 10 were found to be contaminated. The packages contained Technetium-99m “a widely used medical isotope that has a radiological half-life of six hours,” the CNSC report states. The contamination was found to be on the outside of the packages and the problem was first noticed by a hospital technologist at the Royal Victoria Hospital, who noted she had contamination on her left hand after manipulating one of the packages.

The technologist, whose hand was decontaminated the same day, reported the incident to a radiation protection officer at the hospital and Isologic was informed immediately. Despite this, the same driver delivered two more contaminated packages to the same hospital and one to the Montreal General. The driver’s right hand was found to be contaminated after having made the deliveries on Aug. 12. His hand was also later decontaminated.

Isologic took corrective action on Aug. 14 and since then no subsequent events have been reported. It also filed its final report on what went wrong to CNSC, on Oct. 17, and proposed to “implement all of the corrective actions by the end of December 2014.” The report states CNSC will perform an unannounced inspection at Isologic in the coming weeks and it “is considering taking appropriate enforcement measures, including the issuance of administrative monetary penalties.”