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October 23, 1954


JAMA. 1954;156(8):773. doi:10.1001/jama.1954.02950080021011

Many patients are given tracer doses of radioactive isotopes as a diagnostic procedure. In the event of an accidental death such a patient constitutes no radiological hazard because the tracer doses used are small. Radioactive gold (Au198) and radioactive iodine (I131) are, however, used therapeutically. This is done only in a hospital, and the hospital is required to have a radiation safety officer. No patient receiving isotopes should be discharged from the hospital until his radioactivity is down to 30 mc. If such a patient dies suddenly after leaving the hospital, there is no radiological hazard in performing an autopsy or embalming the body. The maximum dose of Au198 or I131 is 150 mc., and although these isotopes are not given to moribund patients death may occur unexpectedly within two weeks after such a dose. In such a case the physician pronouncing the patient dead must

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