Radiation Safety of the Patient in Cancer Therapy

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Associate Professor Ivan Williams

Director, Australian Clinical Dosimetry Service (ACDS)

Over 50,000 Australians receive radiation treatment for cancer every year. Treatment success, patient safety and clinical trials all depend upon the correct amount of radiation, or dose, being delivered to the patient. Over the last two decades, overseas accidents have resulted in inappropriate treatment of thousands of patients, sometimes with fatal consequences. Within Australia comparatively minor incidents, with no discernable clinical impact, have occurred, but have nonetheless involved hundreds of patients.

In 2010 Australia setup a pilot national dosimetry program, the Australian Clinical Dosimetry Service, ACDS. Funded by the Federal Department of Health, the pilot was free and voluntary to all radiotherapy providers in Australia. Within six months of the ACDS’ launch, every radiotherapy provider within the country had agreed to participate in the audit pilot.

The ACDS’ success is due to a combination of scientific rigour, engagement with clinical professions, and building a climate of trust and legitimacy with all stakeholders.

The presentation will cover the audit design and its proven clinical impact across Australia. Responses to audit findings and recommendations that have led to practice changes in a number of clinics will be reviewed. The presentation will discuss the social pressures which exist within the professional environment and their effect on the ACDS’ operations, and will conclude with a view of the ACDS’ future.