SU-F-T-243: Major Risks in Radiotherapy. A Review Based On Risk Analysis Literature




We present a literature review of risk analyses in radiotherapy to highlight the most reported risks and facilitate the spread of this valuable information so that professionals can be aware of these major threats before performing their own studies.


We considered studies with at least an estimation of the probability of occurrence of an adverse event (O) and its associated severity (S). They cover external beam radiotherapy, brachytherapy, intraoperative radiotherapy, and stereotactic techniques. We selected only the works containing a detailed ranked series of elements or failure modes and focused on the first fully reported quartile as much. Afterward, we sorted the risk elements according to a regular radiotherapy procedure so that the resulting groups were cited in several works and be ranked in this way.


29 references published between 2007 and February 2016 were studied. Publication trend has been generally rising. The most employed analysis has been the Failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA). Among references, we selected 20 works listing 258 ranked risk elements. They were sorted into 31 groups appearing at least in two different works. 11 groups appeared in at least 5 references and 5 groups did it in 7 or more papers. These last sets of risks where choosing another set of images or plan for planning or treating, errors related with contours, errors in patient positioning for treatment, human mistakes when programming treatments, and planning errors.


There is a sufficient amount and variety of references for identifying which failure modes or elements should be addressed in a radiotherapy department before attempting a specific analysis. FMEA prevailed, but other studies such as “risk matrix” or “occurrence × severity” analyses can also lead professionals’ efforts. Risk associated with human actions ranks very high; therefore, they should be automated or at least peer-reviewed.