United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

NRC Staff Proposes $8,000 Fine Against San Juan Physician


NRC Seal NRC NEWS

U. S. NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, REGION II

61 Forsyth Street, Suite 23T85, Atlanta, GA 30303

CONTACT: Ken Clark (Phone: 404-562-4416, E-mail: kmc2@nrc.gov )
Roger Hannah (Phone 404-562-4417, E-mail: rdh1@nrc.gov )

No: II-97-46

June 12, 1997

NRC STAFF PROPOSES $8,000 FINE AGAINST SAN JUAN PHYSICIAN

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has proposed an $8,000 civil penalty against Dr. Jose Fernandez of San Juan, Puerto Rico for violations of NRC regulations relating to his use of radioactive sources (strontium-90) used to treat eye disorders.

According to the letter sent to Dr. Fernandez by NRC Regional Administrator Luis Reyes, the violations involved numerous failures to comply with regulatory requirements and resulted in some patients receiving larger than intended radiation doses.

The violations include:

(1) failure to establish a Quality Management Program for the administration of the doses;

(2) failure to appropriately secure or control the licensed radioactive material;

(3) failure to limit use of the material to only those people authorized;

(4) failure to notify three patients of higher than intended radiation doses within 24 hours;

(5) failure to provide a written report to three patients of higher than intended doses within 15 days;

(6) failure to test the sources for leaks at six-month intervals;

(7) failure to conduct an inventory of the sources every calendar year;

(8) failure to transfer the material to an authorized recipient; and

(9) failure to transfer the material within the 90 days specified in an NRC Order in October 1996.

NRC officials said more than 200 patients were exposed to at least twice as much radiation as intended. In the letter to Dr. Fernandez, Reyes wrote that although the ultimate health impact is not fully known, "the violations are of very significant regulatory concern." Reyes also wrote that "the violations represent a significant lack of program oversight and are clearly indicative of your careless disregard for regulatory requirements" and that "your overall record of poor performance prior to and after identification of these issues further reflects the lack of importance you placed on regulatory compliance."

Dr. Fernandez has 30 days to either pay the fine or to protest its imposition.

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