Compliance to technical guidelines for radiotherapy treatment in relation to patient safety

Pascale A. M. Simons*, Ruud M. A. Houben, Huub Backes, Rene F. G. Pijls, Siebren Groothuis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


To determine the compliance of radiation technologists to technical guidelines in daily practice for radiotherapy treatment and whether there are differences in compliance across organizational units. On the basis of consensus, radiation technologists constructed a flowchart describing the work procedure of the irradiation of patients with breast cancer. Using video recordings, technologists in two units were observed to determine whether treatment was conducted in accordance with the flowchart. Data have been collected on one linear accelerator at the MAASTRO clinic, a radiotherapy clinic in the Netherlands. Fifty-six treatments for breast cancer were analyzed in two treatment units. Percentage compliance to the most important issues for patient safety. An overall compliance of 59% (range: 2-100%) was shown on the 18 most important tasks for patient safety. Between the two units, the compliance varied from 21% to 81%. Tasks considered important by independent assessment had higher levels of compliance. Video-taped observation proved to be an effective tool for determining compliance in daily practice. A large variation in practice within and across units was detected by the video observations suggesting a need for standard operating procedures to improve the safety of radiotherapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-193
JournalInternational Journal for Quality in Health Care
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • practice variations
  • guidelines
  • risk management
  • design for safety
  • quality measurement

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