Radiation user licence - remote operators

The EPA, the Ministry of Health and the Australian Institute of Radiography developed a user licence for remote operators to allow limited radiography services to be provided in rural and remote areas of New South Wales.

What has changed and why

The remote operator user licence conditions have been amended to make the intent clearer and address changes in work practices in remote locations. 

The licence conditions are intended to simplify the accountability of referrers of x-ray examinations regarding the use of remote operators in place of radiographers and to ensure that the conditions of use are consistent across Local Health Districts. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that employees carry out these procedures.

Radiographer 'not available to attend'

To clarify the existing condition that the x-ray examination may only be performed by a remote operator when a radiographer is not in attendance, a definition has been added to specify what 'not available to attend' means for radiographers. A radiographer is taken to be unable to attend if: 

  1. the radiographer has declared that they are unavailable
  2. the radiographer is not in attendance at the facility or due at the facility in the next six hours
  3. there is no radiographer rostered or on call
  4. the radiographer is unable to attend in a timely manner due to restrictions in distance/time where the well-being of the patient will be affected if the x-ray examination is not undertaken. 

Certifying the need for x-rays when a radiographer is unavailable

If a radiographer is not in attendance, or not available to attend, the remote operator may use x-ray apparatus to take plain radiographs as specified on their licence. The remote operator user licence conditions require the medical practitioner to certify on the request form that the x-ray examination is required before the services of a radiographer can be obtained.

The remote operator must obtain authorisation by the referring medical practitioner prior to examination. The remote operator must document the authorisation on the medical record or request form before the radiographic examination can be carried out. This process will promote consistency with the NSW Health Policy Directive - Clinical Procedure Safety.

The certification requirements extend to situations where the medical practitioner considers that the life or wellbeing of the patient could be seriously threatened if the examination is not undertaken immediately. However, in these situations the remote operator may use any apparatus at any time to carry out the radiological examination.

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