If the AEC performance is found to be outside the action limit during physicist testing, can a facility adjust the density control settings or use manual techniques until the unit is fixed? Would it require the physicist to come and recheck it or if the repairman did so would that be satisfactory?
The answer to the first question is yes. According to 900.12(e)(5)(i)(A), when the AEC performance is found to be outside the action limit during physicist testing, the medical physicist may create a temporary technique chart that includes the appropriate density settings (in addition to the other technique factors) to be used with the malfunctioning AEC. The facility can use this temporary chart for up to 30 days, or until the problem has been corrected and the equipment passes the AEC performance test, whichever comes first. If the AEC is completely non-functioning, the medical physicist may create a manual mode technique chart that includes all the appropriate manual technique factors. Use of the manual mode would be acceptable under the complete failure situation raised by the question. The facility can use manual techniques for up to 30 days while the non-functioning AEC is being repaired and can continue to use the unit on patients during this period.
The answer to the second question depends on the repair needed to fix the problem. If the repair is classified as “major” (see Table: Medical Physicist Involvement in Equipment Adjustments, Changes, or Repairs), then the medical physicist must be onsite to perform the post repair testing. If the repair is not classified as “major” then the post repair testing may be done under the medical physicist’s oversight. In either event, the appropriate testing must be performed and passed within the specified time frames.