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Presented by Daniel W Bailey, PhD, DABR
Northside Hospital Cancer Institute
Recent national and multi-national efforts to improve patient safety and treatment quality in radiotherapy have produced myriad suggestions and guidelines. The sheer amount of information provided by these studies is staggeringly chaotic for the busy clinical team trying to effect real change. Most published studies identify the implementation of an incident learning system as a logical first step. Such a system provides an invaluable tool for collecting and analyzing data toward improving quality and safety in radiotherapy, but at the same time its implementation presents many questions and challenges. How do we define an “incident,” and what do we do with “near misses” that never reach the patient? Should the reporting system be anonymous – and, if so, how does an anonymous system fit in a responsible culture focused on safety? What steps help optimize the participation of all staff in the radiation oncology clinic? Is there evidence that an incident learning system can really change the quality and safety of treatments for the better? In this discussion, we examine some of the resources available to the busy clinical team to help get an incident learning system up and running, as well as the vital characteristics and structure of an effective incident learning system. We will also look at the national and multi-national efforts currently working to address the need of efficient incident reporting and education. We conclude with practical application of published guidelines to optimize the creation and use of a radiation oncology incident learning system.
Daniel W Bailey, PhD, DABR is a medical physicist at the Atlanta campus of Northside Hospital Cancer Institute. He completed his graduate degrees and residency at the State University of New York at Buffalo and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute under the mentorship of Dr. Matthew Podgorsak, and has been in his current position in Atlanta since 2013. In addition to his clinical responsibilities at Northside Hospital, he also serves as the chair of a multi-disciplinary task force to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of radiation oncology clinical and teaching processes. On the national level, Dr. Bailey serves on a number of medical physics committees for the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, the American Association of Medical Dosimetrists, and the American Board of Radiology, and also serves on the Board of Editors of the Journal of Applied Clinical Medical Physics.