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General principles

Introduction

The clinical outcome for a cancer patient receiving radiotherapy can be compromised by the quality of the equipment and processes used to plan and deliver the treatment. Cancer care professionals work hard to ensure that every patient receives the best and most accurate treatment taking into account all aspects of their medical condition. However, even with the best intentions mistakes can occasionally slip through or poor practices adopted. An independent audit is an effective means for verifying and improving the quality of a radiotherapy program.

Important Principles

A quality audit of a programme has two principal components: a review of the policies, procedures and critical data, and a site visit to confirm that equipment and clinical processes are functioning as they should be. These two fundamentals are sometimes summarized as advice to “say what you do and do what you say”. An audit is typically carried out by an expert team of two or more professionals and can last up to a week. At the conclusion of the process a written report containing an assessment of the current quality of the programme together with suggestions for improvement is submitted to the facility. It is important to note that an audit is specifically not designed for regulatory purposes and the auditors have no power to enforce any actions based on their assessment; they can only report their findings and give recommendations which the audited centre is free to implement or not as they wish.

 

Introduction to References

The references describe the IAEA approach to quality audits and the QUATRO programme.

Role of Quality Audits: View from the IAEA. J. Izewska and Eeva Salminen. In Quality and Safety in Radiotherapy. Eds T. Pawlicki et al. CRC press

Comprehensive Audits of Radiotherapy Practices: A Tool for Quality Improvement Quality Assurance Team for Radiation Oncology (QUATRO)