Skip links and keyboard navigation

Request or prescribe a diagnostic or therapeutic procedure

Businesses performing diagnostic or therapeutic procedures will receive both requests, referrals and prescriptions for these procedures:

  • Referrals are made by general medical practitioners to a medical specialist for a decision on whether a diagnostic procedure is justified.
  • Requests for diagnostic procedures can only be made by 'authorised persons'. The person who is authorised to make the request varies depending on the type of radiation source and purpose.
  • Prescriptions for therapeutic procedures can only be made by ‘authorised persons’. The person who is authorised to make the request varies depending on the type of radiation source and purpose.

Refer a patient for a diagnostic procedure

General medical practitioners can refer a patient to a specialist for a diagnostic procedure.

To refer a patient to a medical imaging specialist, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) recommends including:

  • the patient's details—name, address, date of birth, and hospital ID number (if relevant)
  • what examination is requested—area to be examined and type of examination
  • clinical information—such as relevant history and allergies/contraindications
  • main objective of the examination—clinical questions to be answered by performing the procedure
  • signature of the referrer—with their name and the date.

Authorised person—request a diagnostic procedure or prescribe a therapeutic procedure

You are allowed to make a request for a patient to have a diagnostic or prescribe a therapeutic procedure if you are listed as an ‘authorised person’ in Schedule 6 of the Radiation Safety Regulation 2021.

Placing a limit on who can make a request or prescription helps to ensure that procedures are clinically justified and that the most appropriate methods are used to obtain the information. It also helps to minimise the risk of unnecessary exposure to radiation.

Requests for diagnostic procedures need to be in written or electronic form and include:

  • the name of the practitioner making the request
  • the procedure being requested
  • details about the radiation source to be used
  • the information the procedure aims to obtain.

Prescriptions for therapeutic procedures need to be written in electronic form and include:

  • the name of the practitioner making the request
  • the procedure being requested
  • details about the radiation source to be used
  • the amount of radiation and type of treatment.

Use Licensee—perform a diagnostic or therapeutic procedure

You can only perform a diagnostic or therapeutic procedure if:

  • the procedure has been requested by an authorised person
  • you hold a current Use Licence that allows you to operate the radiation source for the procedure.

You are responsible for ensuring the radiation procedure and exposure received by the patient complies with the request.

Blank request forms that have been pre-signed by an authorised person are not acceptable under any circumstances. Pre-signing request forms indicates poor clinical practice. If you receive a blank pre-signed form, you should refer it to the relevant health practitioner registration board and Radiation Health for investigation.

Internal protocols for authorisation of referrals

Some radiology businesses have internal protocols that enable licensed staff to act on certain referrals for diagnostic procedures using generic arrangements. These arrangements would be for commonly occurring patient conditions that have relatively clear symptoms or indicators.

These protocols need to be in writing and signed by the authorised person or persons taking responsibility for the patients affected.

Internal protocols should be referenced in the Radiation Safety and Protection Plan for the business and include:

  • who referrals can be accepted from
  • details of the radiation sources to be used and the types of procedure that may be handled via the protocol
  • the information each type of procedure aims to obtain
  • the extent of the radiography required for each type of procedure.

Seek the advice of an authorised person if you are unclear about a referral.

Last updated: 16 September 2021