Medical Physics

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Safety and Accuracy in Radiation Medical Procedures


What is Medical Physics?

Medical Physics is the profession which applies physics principles to the diagnosis and treatment of human disease. Medical Physicists are highly qualified health professionals, with advanced postgraduate university degree (Masters or Doctorate) and specialized clinical training in Radiotherapy, Diagnostic Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and/or Radiation Protection. Medical Physicists form part of comprehensive medical teams in radiation medicine.

What do medical physicists do?

The essential responsibility of the Medical Physicist’s clinical practice is to ensure safe and effective delivery of radiation to achieve a diagnostic or therapeutic goal as prescribed in patient care. Medical Physicists perform and supervise appropriate procedures necessary to achieve this objective. The responsibilities of the Medical Physicists include: establishment of adequate protocols to ensure accurate patient dosimetry; the measurement and characterization of radiation; the determination of delivered dose; protection of patients and others from potentially harmful or excessive radiation; advancement of procedures necessary to ensure quality of medical images; development of quality assurance programs; assistance to other health care professionals in optimizing the balance between the beneficial and deleterious effects of radiation, etc. Additionally, Medical Physicists play a key role in radiation protection education and training of health care professionals, and participate in research and development to improve patient care.

Why the Need for a Medical Physicist?

Without the service of qualified Medical Physicist(s), the application of radiation in medicine could lead to unsatisfactory outcomes. Patients may be under-dosed or over-dosed, leading to stochastic or deterministic effects, and the success of the diagnosis or treatment could be jeopardized. Medical staff and the public may also be in danger of unnecessary radiation exposure if Medical Physicists are not at post to ensure safety.

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African Journal of Medical Physics



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