ASTRO Blog

Patient Safety Awareness Week is Just Around the Corner

By: Ksenija Kujundzic, Quality Improvement Manager

Patient Safety Awareness WeekTM (PSAW), sponsored by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, is March 10-16, 2019. It is a time to celebrate the numerous quality and safety initiatives already taking place and identify what more can be done to improve patient safety.

On any given day within a radiation oncology practice, radiation therapists perform time-outs, dosimetrists develop safe treatment plans, medical physicists conduct quality assurance tests on machines and radiation oncologists discuss patient cases during peer review meetings. Together as a clinical team, radiation oncology professionals commit themselves to safety every day. During PSAW, we celebrate this commitment.


How can you join ASTRO as we celebrate PSAW?

Express Your Commitment to Patient Safety on Social Media.

In honor of PSAW, ASTRO invites clinicians, practices, patient advocacy groups and more, to join us for our #SafetyIsOurPriority campaign!

Similar to the recent #WomenWhoCurie social media campaign, we encourage everyone to take a picture of you and/or your staff taking an oath to make patient safety a priority, and post to social media with the hashtags #SafetyIsOurPriority and #PSAW19! You can use our custom-made hashtag sign, which can be printed here.

Join RO-ILS and/or Report Safety Events.

RO-ILS: Radiation Oncology Incident Learning System® is an online safety data collection instrument tied with a federally listed patient safety organization.

Have questions about RO-ILS? Join our “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) event on ASTRO’s online community, ROhub. The AMA event takes place solely online. RO-ILS staff will be available on Tuesday, March 12 to answer any questions relating to the program. Questions can be posted on the ROhub thread between now and March 12 and will be answered during the online event.

Already enrolled in RO-ILS? Highlight to staff the importance of reporting all safety events, including incidents, near misses, unsafe conditions and operational/process improvement into RO-ILS. Analyze your practice’s data utilizing the Analysis Wizard within the RO-ILS portal. Celebrate safety interventions implemented in the past year.

Pursue Accreditation.

Complete an application for ASTRO’s Accreditation Program for Excellence (APEx) by March 31 and receive $1,500 off! Contact APEx staff at apexsupport@astro.org to register for the discount.

The APEx process is predicated on a self-assessment, which provides practices the opportunity to confidentially self-study, compare standards and implement quality improvement initiatives. This process allows practices to increase high-quality patient care as well as hold a more productive APEx facility visit. It is a method that offers data that stimulates curiosity and learning, making the accreditation process educational, rather than punitive. Facilities accredited by APEx are recognized as having demonstrated a commitment to providing safe, high-quality care to patients.

Read “Safety is No Accident”.

An updated copy of “Safety is No Accident: A Framework for Quality Radiation Oncology and Care” will be released on Wednesday, March 13 on the ASTRO website. Safety is No Accident, a key component of ASTRO's patient safety initiative, Target Safely, was last updated in 2012. Since then, ASTRO launched RO-ILS and APEx, new technology has emerged and numerous societal recommendations were published.

Engage Colleagues and the Radiation Oncology Community.

Highlight PSAW during your internal staff meetings and celebrate your ongoing safety activities. Discuss case studies and themes highlighted in RO-ILS education. Could a similar event occur at your practice? Why or why not? Celebrate staff for going above and beyond or for catching a potential safety event before it reached the patient. Thank staff for entering events into an incident learning system. On a national level, contribute to discussion threads in ROhub's Open Forum related to patient safety.

Discuss Safety with Patients.

Some patients worry about the safety of radiation therapy. Radiation has been used successfully to treat patients for more than 100 years. In that time, many advances have been made to ensure that radiation therapy is safe and effective. Share ASTRO's RTAnswers.org resources with patients, which include disease site-specific resources and a video and handout with questions for patients to ask their doctor about radiation therapy.

Review Scientific Literature on Patient Safety.

Practical Radiation Oncology (PRO), ASTRO’s official clinical practice journal, is dedicated to improving the quality of radiation oncology practice, documenting the state of current practice, providing background for those in training and the continuing education of practitioners. Patient safety is one of the key focus areas of PRO. The latest edition of PRO includes an ASTRO consensus paper on Standardizing Normal Tissue Contouring for Radiation Therapy Treatment Planning. Previous editions have published articles on safety culture, incident learning and ASTRO white papers, including one on Standardizing Dose Prescriptions.

Add to the body of scientific literature on patient safety by conducting research and submitting original articles to PRO. Additionally, implement recommendations published in PRO, the Red Journal, Advances and other scientific journals.


There are many ways you can improve patient safety during PSAW and throughout the year. ASTRO encourages every practice and every member of the radiation oncology team to make safety a priority every day. Comment below with how you or your practice celebrate patient safety.

Posted: March 5, 2019 | with 0 comments
Filed under: Safety


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