Radiation treatment consists of a chain of events influenced by the quality of machine operation, beam data commissioning, machine calibration, patient specific data, simulation, treatment planning, imaging and treatment delivery. There is always a chance that the clinical medical physicist may make or fail to detect an error in one of the events that may impact on the patient's treatment. In the clinical scenario, errors may be systematic and, without peer review, may have a low detectability because they are not part of routine QA procedures. During treatment, there might be errors on machine that needs attention. External reviews of some of the treatment delivery components by independent reviewers, like IROC, can detect errors, but may not be timely. The goal of this session is to help junior clinical physicists identify potential errors as well as the approach of quality assurance to perform a root cause analysis to find and eliminate an error and to continually monitor for errors. A compilation of potential errors will be presented by examples of the thought process required to spot the error and determine the root cause. Examples may include unusual machine operation, erratic electrometer reading, consistent lower electron output, variation in photon output, body parts inadvertently left in beam, unusual treatment plan, poor normalization, hot spots etc. Awareness of the possibility and detection of error in any link of the treatment process chain will help improve the safe and accurate delivery of radiation to patients. Four experts will discuss how to identify errors in four areas of clinical treatment.
D. Followill, NIH grant CA 180803