A comprehensive quality assurance program for personnel and procedures in radiation oncology: Value of voluntary error reporting and checklists

John A. Kalapurakal*, Aleksandar Zafirovski, Jeffery Smith, Paul Fisher, Vythialingam Sathiaseelan, Cynthia Barnard, Alfred W. Rademaker, Nick Rave, Bharat B. Mittal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: This report describes the value of a voluntary error reporting system and the impact of a series of quality assurance (QA) measures including checklists and timeouts on reported error rates in patients receiving radiation therapy. Methods and Materials: A voluntary error reporting system was instituted with the goal of recording errors, analyzing their clinical impact, and guiding the implementation of targeted QA measures. In response to errors committed in relation to treatment of the wrong patient, wrong treatment site, and wrong dose, a novel initiative involving the use of checklists and timeouts for all staff was implemented. The impact of these and other QA initiatives was analyzed. Results: From 2001 to 2011, a total of 256 errors in 139 patients after 284,810 external radiation treatments (0.09% per treatment) were recorded in our voluntary error database. The incidence of errors related to patient/tumor site, treatment planning/data transfer, and patient setup/treatment delivery was 9%, 40.2%, and 50.8%, respectively. The compliance rate for the checklists and timeouts initiative was 97% (P<.001). These and other QA measures resulted in a significant reduction in many categories of errors. The introduction of checklists and timeouts has been successful in eliminating errors related to wrong patient, wrong site, and wrong dose. Conclusions: A comprehensive QA program that regularly monitors staff compliance together with a robust voluntary error reporting system can reduce or eliminate errors that could result in serious patient injury. We recommend the adoption of these relatively simple QA initiatives including the use of checklists and timeouts for all staff to improve the safety of patients undergoing radiation therapy in the modern era.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-248
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Volume86
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research

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