ASTRO commits to patient protection plan for radiotherapy
In acknowledgment of recent media reports regarding serious errors in the delivery of radiation therapy, the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) last week released a six-point patient protection plan that seeks to improve safety and quality, while reducing the chance of medical errors.

The protection plan comes after a systemic review of the society’s patient safety and quality assurance projects from its board of directors’ winter meeting, held Jan. 28-31.
According to the Fairfax, VA.-based ASTRO, the plan includes:
  1. Working with the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors and other stakeholders to create a database for the reporting of linear accelerator- and CT-based medical errors;
  2. Launching an enhanced practice accreditation program and beginning the development of additional accreditation modules specifically addressing new, advanced technologies such as intensity-modulated radiation therapy, stereotactic body radio therapy and brachytherapy;
  3. Expanding educational training programs to include specific courses on quality assurance and safety and adding additional content to other educational programs;
  4. Working with patient support organizations to develop tools for cancer patients and caregivers for use in their discussions with their radiation oncologist to help them understand the quality and safety programs at the centers where they are being treated;
  5. Further developing the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise-Radiation Oncology (IHE-RO) connectivity compliance program to ensure that medical technologies from different manufacturers can safely transfer information to reduce the chance of a medical error; and
  6. Providing ASTRO members’ expertise to policymakers and advocating for new and expanded federal initiatives to help protect patients, including support for immediate passage of the Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility and Excellence in Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy (CARE) Act to require national standards for radiation therapy treatment team members, additional resources for the National Institutes of Health’s Radiological Physics Center to evaluate the safety of treatments and funding for a national reporting database.
“We have been developing and refining many of these programs for years and they have been making a huge difference in the quality of cancer treatment," said ASTRO Board Chairman Tim Williams, MD. "By committing to this plan, we are redoubling our efforts in this essential area of our specialty.”