Tell us about yourself
I am Mark Pflug, MS, RPPT, CHMM, CLSO, CMLSO. I am the system-wide Radiation Safety Officer, MR Safety Officer, Environmental Safety Manager, and Deputy Laser Safety Officer for Cone Health (Greensboro, NC).
My career in safety and radiological health started after graduating high school when I enlisted in the U.S. Navy and its Naval Nuclear Power Program. After serving 10 years in the submarine force, I began my civilian career working for hospital- and university-based programs. My previous employers include University of Utah, Purdue University, Yale University, and Northwestern Medicine in Chicago. I graduated with my Master’s Degree from Purdue University in Health Physics.
I am happily married to my beautiful wife Heather. Our family consists of three awesomeand talented children, two dogs, and one very scared cat.
How did you become LSO?
While at Purdue University, I taught laser safety, as well as radiation safety, to our lab users and students. At Northwestern Medicine, I was the LSO for our downtown hospital (Northwestern Memorial Hospital), Prentice Women’s Hospital, Lake Forest Hospital, and Grayslake facilities. I became certified as a CMLSO at Northwestern and organized the first laser safety committee for the hospital system. Working in health physics, lasers, and laser safety was a natural fit, as the worlds on ionizing and non-ionizing radiation collide.
Do you like being a CLSO and CMLSO?
There is great personal satisfaction knowing we have a cohesive safety program. I believe, as a team, we make a difference in our healthcare community. I must give high marks to our Cone Health Laser Safety Officer, Chris Dissinger. While I play a supportive role as the Deputy Laser Safety Officer, Chris is absolutely fantastic in his administration of our laser safety program. He is committed to having the best program possible and holds everyone to a higher standard. Together, we are a “(laser) tag-team” of safety.
I am happy to report, that at Cone Health, Laser Safety is taken very seriously with uncompromising backing and support. From our terrific nursing staff to our Medical Affairs Vice-president, Dr. Bill Bowman, MD, safety for medical-use lasers is of paramount importance. Authorized users must go through a rigorous credentialing program. Approvals of machines go through a stringent course of departmental sign-offs. I am very fortunate to have an organization that places patient and staff safety as a top priority. True actions and not mere motions are the hallmarks of a viable program. Through Chris Dissinger’s valiant efforts, we have created a strong laser safety culture.
Has becoming certified helped you in your career?
Certification in both CLSO and CMLSO have been instrumental in my role as the Radiation Safety Officer. With new machines and new emerging technologies, the world of laser safety is ever changing. Maintaining certification means continual education and instruction. Through organizations like BLS, one has the opportunity to learn new information and keep current with standards, rules, definitions, and regulatory compliance. Taking advantage of the resources of certification, I have been able to build a firm foundation of knowledge, which has, in turn, provided me a greater sense of confidence in implementing safety programs throughout of system.