By Ksenija Kujundzic, Quality Improvement Manager
This year, Patient Safety Awareness Week (PSAW), sponsored by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, will take place March 8-14. The week offers the opportunity to celebrate the numerous quality and safety initiatives already in place and to identify what more can be done to improve patient safety.
On any given day within a radiation oncology practice, radiation oncology professionals commit themselves to delivering safe and high-quality treatment. In this team effort, everyone plays a critical role. For example, radiation therapists perform time-outs, dosimetrists develop safe treatment plans, medical physicists conduct quality assurance tests on machines, radiation oncologists discuss patient cases during peer review meetings, and the entire team develops standard processes and promotes a positive safety culture. Radiation oncology professionals commit themselves to safety every day, and PSAW is a great time to celebrate this commitment.
There are a number of ways you can join ASTRO in promoting safety during PSAW:
Share your practices’ safety initiatives. ASTRO invites clinicians and practices to share on social media how you are a #SafetyChampion by describing a local initiative implemented to promote patient safety. Post a brief video (one to two minutes) or short statement (two to three sentences) on social media using the hashtags #SafetyChampion and #PSAW20 and tag @ASTRO_org. For details, such as tips on creating a video, read more about the #SafetyChampion initiative.
Pursue accreditation. Any practice that starts an application for Accreditation Program for Excellence (APEx®) by March 31, 2020, will receive $1,500 off the total application price. This discount is valid for new practices and those practices seeking reaccreditation. The application process includes providing practice information (e.g., annual number of new patients treated, treatments offered, equipment and physician names), signing agreements and submitting payment.
APEx evaluates all aspects of a radiation oncology practice to further promote consistent patient-centered care. Facilities accredited by APEx are recognized as having demonstrated a commitment to providing safe, high-quality care to patients and elevating the culture of safety.
Contact ASTRO staff to learn more about the program and available discount.
Join RO-ILS and/or report safety events. RO-ILS: Radiation Oncology Incident Learning System® is one of the few specialty-specific programs that collects safety data via a federally listed patient safety organization, with more than 500 facilities across the U.S. already enrolled. Join for free today!
Already enrolled in RO-ILS?
- Highlight to staff the importance of reporting all safety events, including incidents, near misses, and more 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.
- Thank and praise staff for submitting events, going above and beyond and for catching an incident before it reached the patient.
Read the RO-ILS and APEx program reports. RO-ILS and APEx 2019 reports will be released during PSAW on the ASTRO website. As key components of ASTRO's patient safety initiative, Target Safely, RO-ILS and APEx demonstrates the Society’s and the field’s commitment to improving quality and safety. The RO-ILS report will highlight advancements in incident learning, such as an automated prioritization and triage mechanism. The APEx report will discuss low performing evidence indicators that practices should strive to improve.
Engage with the radiation oncology and health care community. Join the conversation about patient safety on discussion threads in ASTRO’s online community, ROhub. Ask safety-related questions of your fellow radiation oncology clinicians.
Engage with the larger house of medicine on social media and help us raise the profile of radiation oncology. For example, share interesting articles related to patient safety. Celebrate your team’s efforts toward improving quality by posting a photo of you and your team with a PSAW sign (see example, right, from last year). With all related 2020 social media posts, be sure to include the hashtags #PSAW20 and #ROSafety and tag @ASTRO_org.
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 resources with patients, which include disease site-specific resources and a video and handout with questions for patients to ask their doctor about radiation safety.
Review scientific literature on patient safety. One of the key focus areas of Practical Radiation Oncology (PRO), ASTRO’s official clinical practice journal, is patient safety. The recent consensus paper on Minimum Data Elements for Radiation Oncology highlights the importance of homogeneity in data definitions for safe care coordination. Previous editions of PRO have published articles on safety culture, incident learning and ASTRO white papers, including ones on Standardizing Dose Prescriptions and Standardizing Normal Tissue Contouring for Radiation Therapy Treatment Planning.
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 will be honoring this year’s awareness week.