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Nuclear HAZMAT Event – Radioactive Contamination, I-131: Children’s Hospital of Chicago Medical Center


Nuclear Event in USA on Tuesday, 24 January, 2016 at (time unreported) [CST].


The following was received from the State of Illinois via email:

“On January 25, the licensee’s Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) contacted the Agency [Illinois Emergency Management Agency] to report an issue with an administration of a capsule containing I-131 which had occurred the previous afternoon. A nominal dose of 30 milliCi in capsule form was given to a child within the nuclear medicine department of the licensee’s facility. Although the patient was being treated on an outpatient basis, the licensee was keeping the patient for a short time to ensure there would be no complications before being sent home. During this period, staff checked in on the patient several times and during one of the visits, discovered that rather than swallowing the capsule as instructed, the patient had spit the capsule out into their hand and was hiding the capsule. This resulted in extensive contamination of the patient’s hand, clothing and the chair they were sitting in as well as the immediate surrounding area. During the process to evaluate and decontaminate the patient, additional contamination was discovered in adjacent camera rooms and corridors where the staff had traversed. Staff moved to close the department and restrict passage into/out of the nearby areas to prevent additional spread of contamination. Initial estimates suggest that the patient ingested little if any of the activity and that excessive levels were throughout the area of the nuclear medicine department. Based on this finding, barriers were erected and the department was closed for over 48 hours while assessment and decontamination efforts were ongoing.

“Agency inspectors were at the site on January 26 to perform assessments of exposure, contamination levels, potential uptake by staff and corrective action being taken by the licensee. This matter will remain open while those assessments are on going. Initial bioassay results suggest only negligible uptakes have occurred with staff. Potential exposures/uptakes continue to be evaluated by the licensee throughout the decontamination process. The licensee is exploring the potential for having additional outside resources complete the necessary decontamination and remediation steps so that the department can reopen and provide at least limited services.”

Illinois Item Number: IL17002

Source: NRC  Event Number: 52514

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