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Title: Quality in radiation oncology

Abstract

A modern approach to quality was developed in the United States at Bell Telephone Laboratories during the first part of the 20th century. Over the years, those quality techniques have been adopted and extended by almost every industry. Medicine in general and radiation oncology in particular have been slow to adopt modern quality techniques. This work contains a brief description of the history of research on quality that led to the development of organization-wide quality programs such as Six Sigma. The aim is to discuss the current approach to quality in radiation oncology as well as where quality should be in the future. A strategy is suggested with the goal to provide a threshold improvement in quality over the next 10 years.

Authors:
;  [1]
  1. Department of Radiation Oncology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
20951283
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Medical Physics; Journal Volume: 34; Journal Issue: 5; Other Information: DOI: 10.1118/1.2727748; (c) 2007 American Association of Physicists in Medicine; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
62 RADIOLOGY AND NUCLEAR MEDICINE; DRUGS; NEOPLASMS; PATIENTS; QUALITY ASSURANCE; RADIOTHERAPY

Citation Formats

Pawlicki, Todd, and Mundt, Arno J. Quality in radiation oncology. United States: N. p., 2007. Web. doi:10.1118/1.2727748.
Pawlicki, Todd, & Mundt, Arno J. Quality in radiation oncology. United States. doi:10.1118/1.2727748.
Pawlicki, Todd, and Mundt, Arno J. Tue . "Quality in radiation oncology". United States. doi:10.1118/1.2727748.
@article{osti_20951283,
title = {Quality in radiation oncology},
author = {Pawlicki, Todd and Mundt, Arno J.},
abstractNote = {A modern approach to quality was developed in the United States at Bell Telephone Laboratories during the first part of the 20th century. Over the years, those quality techniques have been adopted and extended by almost every industry. Medicine in general and radiation oncology in particular have been slow to adopt modern quality techniques. This work contains a brief description of the history of research on quality that led to the development of organization-wide quality programs such as Six Sigma. The aim is to discuss the current approach to quality in radiation oncology as well as where quality should be in the future. A strategy is suggested with the goal to provide a threshold improvement in quality over the next 10 years.},
doi = {10.1118/1.2727748},
journal = {Medical Physics},
number = 5,
volume = 34,
place = {United States},
year = {Tue May 15 00:00:00 EDT 2007},
month = {Tue May 15 00:00:00 EDT 2007}
}
  • Purpose: To quantify the error-detection effectiveness of commonly used quality control (QC) measures. Methods: We analyzed incidents from 2007-2010 logged into a voluntary in-house, electronic incident learning systems at 2 academic radiation oncology clinics. None of the incidents resulted in patient harm. Each incident was graded for potential severity using the French Nuclear Safety Authority scoring scale; high potential severity incidents (score >3) were considered, along with a subset of 30 randomly chosen low severity incidents. Each report was evaluated to identify which of 15 common QC checks could have detected it. The effectiveness was calculated, defined as the percentagemore » of incidents that each QC measure could detect, both for individual QC checks and for combinations of checks. Results: In total, 4407 incidents were reported, 292 of which had high-potential severity. High- and low-severity incidents were detectable by 4.0 {+-} 2.3 (mean {+-} SD) and 2.6 {+-} 1.4 QC checks, respectively (P<.001). All individual checks were less than 50% sensitive with the exception of pretreatment plan review by a physicist (63%). An effectiveness of 97% was achieved with 7 checks used in combination and was not further improved with more checks. The combination of checks with the highest effectiveness includes physics plan review, physician plan review, Electronic Portal Imaging Device-based in vivo portal dosimetry, radiation therapist timeout, weekly physics chart check, the use of checklists, port films, and source-to-skin distance checks. Some commonly used QC checks such as pretreatment intensity modulated radiation therapy QA do not substantially add to the ability to detect errors in these data. Conclusions: The effectiveness of QC measures in radiation oncology depends sensitively on which checks are used and in which combinations. A small percentage of errors cannot be detected by any of the standard formal QC checks currently in broad use, suggesting that further improvements are needed. These data require confirmation with a broader incident-reporting database.« less
  • Purpose: The quality assurance (QA) of image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) within clinical trials is in its infancy, but its importance will continue to grow as IGRT becomes the standard of care. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the feasibility of IGRT QA as part of the credentialing process for a clinical trial. Methods and Materials: As part of the accreditation process for a randomized trial in prostate cancer hypofraction, IGRT benchmarking across multiple sites was incorporated. Each participating site underwent IGRT credentialing via a site visit. In all centers, intraprostatic fiducials were used. A real-time assessment of analysismore » of IGRT was performed using Varian's Offline Review image analysis package. Two-dimensional (2D) kV and MV electronic portal imaging prostate patient datasets were used, consisting of 39 treatment verification images for 2D/2D comparison with the digitally reconstructed radiograph derived from the planning scan. The influence of differing sites, image modality, and observer experience on IGRT was then assessed. Results: Statistical analysis of the mean mismatch errors showed that IGRT analysis was performed uniformly regardless of institution, therapist seniority, or imaging modality across the three orthogonal planes. Conclusions: The IGRT component of clinical trials that include sophisticated planning and treatment protocols must undergo stringent QA. The IGRT technique of intraprostatic fiducials has been shown in the context of this trial to be undertaken in a uniform manner across Australia. Extending this concept to many sites with different equipment and IGRT experience will require a robust remote credentialing process.« less
  • Purpose: To report the process and initial experience of remote credentialing of three-dimensional (3D) image guided radiation therapy (IGRT) as part of the quality assurance (QA) of submitted data for Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) clinical trials; and to identify major issues resulting from this process and analyze the review results on patient positioning shifts. Methods and Materials: Image guided radiation therapy datasets including in-room positioning CT scans and daily shifts applied were submitted through the Image Guided Therapy QA Center from institutions for the IGRT credentialing process, as required by various RTOG trials. A centralized virtual environment is establishedmore » at the RTOG Core Laboratory, containing analysis tools and database infrastructure for remote review by the Physics Principal Investigators of each protocol. The appropriateness of IGRT technique and volumetric image registration accuracy were evaluated. Registration accuracy was verified by repeat registration with a third-party registration software system. With the accumulated review results, registration differences between those obtained by the Physics Principal Investigators and from the institutions were analyzed for different imaging sites, shift directions, and imaging modalities. Results: The remote review process was successfully carried out for 87 3D cases (out of 137 total cases, including 2-dimensional and 3D) during 2010. Frequent errors in submitted IGRT data and challenges in the review of image registration for some special cases were identified. Workarounds for these issues were developed. The average differences of registration results between reviewers and institutions ranged between 2 mm and 3 mm. Large discrepancies in the superior-inferior direction were found for megavoltage CT cases, owing to low spatial resolution in this direction for most megavoltage CT cases. Conclusion: This first experience indicated that remote review for 3D IGRT as part of QA for RTOG clinical trials is feasible and effective. The magnitude of registration discrepancy between institution and reviewer was presented, and the major issues were investigated to further improve this remote evaluation process.« less
  • Purpose: To assess practice patterns and compliance with clinical performance measures for radiation therapy (RT) for patients with intact carcinoma of the cervix. Methods and Materials: Trained research associates reviewed the records of 261 randomly selected patients who received RT for cervix carcinoma between 2005 and 2007 from 45 facilities randomly selected after stratification by practice type. National estimates of patient and treatment characteristics were calculated from survey data using SUDAAN statistical software. Results: From the survey data, we estimated that only 8% of US facilities treated on average more than 3 eligible patients per year. No small or mediummore » nonacademic facilities in the survey treated more than 3 eligible patients per year. Approximately 65.5% of patients began treatment in a facility that treated 3 or fewer eligible patients per year. Although 87.5% of patients had brachytherapy as part of their treatment, the proportion treated with external beam RT only was about double that estimated from the 1996 to 1999 survey. The use of high-dose-rate brachytherapy sharply increased, particularly in small nonacademic facilities. Overall, patients treated in nonacademic facilities were more likely to have incomplete or protracted treatment; 43% of patients treated in small nonacademic facilities did not have treatment completed within 10 weeks. Also, patients treated in facilities that treated 3 or fewer eligible patients per year were significantly less likely to receive concurrent chemotherapy than were patients treated in other facilities. Conclusion: Survey results indicate a disturbingly high rate of noncompliance with established criteria for high-quality care of patients with cervical cancer. Noncompliance rates are particularly high in nonacademic facilities, especially those that treat relatively few patients with intact cervical cancer.« less
  • Purpose The purpose of this analysis was to assess the impact of pretreatment factors on quality of life (QOL) in cancer patients. Methods and Materials Pretreatment QOL (via Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy [FACT], version 2) was obtained in 1,428 patients in several prospective Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) trials including nonmetastatic head-and-neck (n = 1139), esophageal (n = 174), lung (n = 51), rectal (n = 47), and prostate (n = 17) cancer patients. Clinically meaningful differences between groups were defined as a difference of 1 standard error of measurement (SEM). Results The mean FACT score for all patientsmore » was 86 (20.7-112) with SEM of 5.3. Statistically significant differences in QOL were observed based on age, race, Karnofsky Performance Status, marital status, education level, income level, and employment status, but not by gender or primary site. Using the SEM, there were clinically meaningful differences between patients {<=}50 years vs. {>=}65 years. Hispanics had worse QOL than whites. FACT increased linearly with higher Karnofsky Performance Status and income levels. Married patients (or live-in relationships) had a better QOL than single, divorced, or widowed patients. College graduates had better QOL than those with less education. Conclusion Most pretreatment factors meaningfully influenced baseline QOL. The potentially devastating impact of a cancer diagnosis, particularly in young and minority patients, must be addressed.« less