Radiation Safety Division members receive Strength, Hope, and Caring Award
May 1st, 2017
Members of the Radiation Safety Division

Congratulations to members of the Radiation Safety Division who were recently presented with the Strength, Hope, and Caring award by Tracy Gosselin, DUH Chief Nursing and Patient Care Services Officer, for their technical support and emergency response to a patient being treated with I-131 MIBG. The Strength, Hope and Caring Award program was developed to honor employees whose extraordinary care reflects the ideals that are valued in our organization.

“I wanted to let you all know of an event that occurred relatively recently and how responsive and thorough a number of individuals were, particularly the team from the Duke Radiation Safety Division. These individuals provided timely, expert, and compassionate care that was considerate of both the patient’s circumstances as well as the needs of the staff. Their efforts were a model of teamwork and professionalism. This was a great example of collaborative effort involving several DMP health care providers and DUH departments, and was led by the Radiation Safety Division.

The patient was being treated with very high-dose therapy, I-131 MIBG, for a neuroendocrine tumor on 9300. Shortly after the infusion of the radioactive MIBG, he had respiratory arrest and a full code ensued. Following resuscitation by the Code Team, he was transferred to the MICU in the DMP. He arrested a second time that same evening. Over the next five days, the patient needed continuous hemodialysis and intensive nursing care by the MICU staff. A CT scan indicated a perforated bowel, and the patient’s family requested comfort measures only. On the fifth day post infusion, the patient died and was transferred to the funeral home.

During this time, the Radiation Safety Division staff worked tirelessly to provide ongoing radiation safety training to the medical care staff, education to the patient’s family as well as precautions to the funeral home personnel despite the time of day. They were continuously available to support the management of the patient’s changing medical status. They were a constant presence with the patient, his family, and the hospital staff, offering guidance and expertise in a situation that was far from “business as usual” for all of those involved; the potential angst associated with radiation exposure was minimized through careful monitoring and education. The Nursing, Environmental Services, and Radiology staff all respected the safety restrictions associated with this patient, and at the same time made his medical needs their top priority. The process included appropriate debriefing.

During this, care providers were able to provide to the patient the very best in medical care. All of the MICU staff and the patient’s family members were carefully monitored to ensure that their radiation exposure was a slow as reasonably achievable. While everyone would have hoped for a better outcome for the gentleman and his family, the technical support and expertise provided by the Radiation Safety Division, along with the cooperation and teamwork of the other departments, was superb. Those directly involved included Robert Reiman, MD, Christine Krieman, Greg Egan, Brian Gibbs, Matt Lesher, Linda Poplawski, and Sandra Szendy. They were under the direct and constant guidance of Terry Yoshizumi, the Chief of the DUH RSO.

It was an excellent model of the DUHS Values: Caring for Our Patients, Their Loved Ones, and Each Other through Excellence, Safety, Integrity, Diversity, and Teamwork.

I think we are extremely fortunate to have this expertise at Duke and wanted the DUH leadership to recognize what was quietly and effectively accomplished in a very high risk and high anxiety situation. I would also add that none of those involved asked for any special recognition or felt this was other than what their professional responsibility was. This was simply a report at a recent Medical Center Radiation Safety Committee meeting. That said, I do want to acknowledge that this is an example of Duke Health at its best.”

Donald P. Frush, MD, FACR, FAAP