On 27 November 2013, on the occasion of the 12th meeting of the association HERCA which brings together the Heads of European Radiological protection Competent Authorities, HERCA has approved the setting up of a new Working Group on Veterinary Applications. This decision was based on the conclusions and proposals of a Task Force in the veterinary field which had been set up on the occasion of the 10th meeting in Paris, in November 2012.

In 2012, the European College of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging (ECVDI) approached HERCA on the issue of radiation protection in veterinary medicine. In particular, ECVDI conveyed the message to HERCA that specific legislation for radiation protection in veterinary applications, which exists or is under construction in only a few countries would be of great help for veterinary professionals. On the occasion of its 10th meeting in October 2012, the Board of HERCA decided to set up a small Task Force (TF) in the veterinary field with the mandate of analysing the different radiation regulatory approaches in Europe in the veterinary field and to look into the radiation protection education and training requirements for veterinarians. The results of the investigations should allow deciding on the possible needs for further work in this field.

The Task Force, led by Mr. Lodewijk Van Bladel (FANC, Belgium) has carried out its activities during 2013. In the framework of its mandate, the TF drew up a questionnaire which looked at the general radiation protection regulatory requirements in veterinary medicine applications of ionizing radiation. 24 out of the 31 HERCA member countries provided feedback. The analysis of the responses to the questionnaire allowed confirming the disparity of regulatory frameworks for these practices, in particular for newer and more complex applications where the risk of exposure to humans is more pronounced. The analysis of the results also showed an increasing use of more complex imaging procedures and of different radio-therapeutic modalities, which may imply greater risks of exposure of humans to ionising radiation. The main results of the Questionnaire ‘National regulatory requirements with regard to veterinary medical applications of ionising radiation’ and conclusions of the TF are now available on the HERCA website.

During the 12th HERCA Board meeting in Berlin, Germany, the Board took note of the final conclusions of the TF in the veterinary field and approved to establish a Working Group on veterinary applications of ionising radiations (WG Vet), tasked with developing guidelines for a regulatory framework on veterinary applications. This WG will be chaired by Mrs Jolien Berlamont, supported by Mr Lodewijk Van Bladel (both FANC, BE).

During the 15th meeting of HERCA (spring/summer 2015) a proposal for a radiation protection framework for veterinary application of ionizing radiation is to be presented by the WG. This proposal shall take into account the following principles:

  • Primary focus shall be on the protection of humans, not of the animals themselves;
  • Due account shall be taken of the principle of “graded approach”
  • Focus shall be on the education and training requirements for veterinary doctors and their ‘helpers’
  • The proposal shall be developed in close collaboration with representative scientific/professional societies of veterinary medicine.

The ultimate goal is to provide a solid basis for a (more) harmonised approach throughout Europe. This should provide better guarantees for the justified and optimised diagnosis and treatment of animals in each and every of our member countries, and thus also of those who are taken abroad to receive treatment. The approaches proposed will have to duly consider the exposure risks of professionally exposed persons, pet owners, animal handlers and the public at large.

Links

ECVDI site

Documents

Main results of an HERCA questionnaire on national regulatory requirements with regard to veterinary applications

INFORMATION

Publication date: 2-12-2013