Radiotherapy is fundamental for treating over half of all cancer patients. Here, quality assurance holds the key to success, to saving lives. Supporting countries not only in providing wider access to radiotherapy, but also in improving its quality, a recent IAEA training course focussed on expanding the global pool of experts who would audit hospitals offering radiation oncology.
Technological advances over the last two decades have significantly improved clinical outcomes. However, delivering a dose that is too low to be effective or one that is too high and harmful still occurs from time to time.
To support radiotherapy hospitals worldwide, to encourage participation in independent comprehensive audits, and to expand the international pool of experts as auditors, the course zoomed in on the IAEA’s Quality Assurance Teams for Radiation Oncology (QUATRO) audit methodology.
“Quality, efficacy, safety and efficiency are essential for radiotherapy,” said May Abdel Wahab, Director of the IAEA Division of Human Health, at the opening of the five-day event. “Our QUATRO methodology and courses like these help radiotherapy professionals improve radiation oncology practice by implementing quality management systems.”
The IAEA has a long history of providing assistance for dosimetry audits to its Member States. Together with the World Health Organization, it has been operating postal dose audit programmes since 1969. Furthermore, based on a comprehensive audit methodology developed in 2004, it has so far conducted more than 100 QUATRO audit missions, improving radiotherapy practices worldwide.
The objective of a comprehensive audit is to review and evaluate the quality of all components of the radiotherapy programme, including human resources, procedures, services, patient protection and safety infrastructure, as well as the implementation of international standards and best practices.
Responding to the growing need for more radiotherapy professionals with sound knowledge on the QUATRO methodology to serve as national, regional and international auditors, 87 participants from 35 countries attended the course in Vienna from 25 to 29 July 2022, held under an inter-regional technical cooperation project.
“Experts from diverse disciplines, such as radiation oncologists, medical physicists and radiotherapy technologists are now expected to take leading roles in their countries as future QUATRO auditors and also to support other countries in their regions and the world,” said Eve-Kulli Kala, Director of the Division for Europe at the IAEA Department of Technical Cooperation.
Mohammad Al Shabanah, Deputy Director of the Oncology Centre at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, found the sessions stimulating: “Having attended this workshop, I am more excited to be part of QUATRO, both as an auditor and as an expert of the centre to be audited.”
 INT6063: “Improving Quality of Radiotherapy, Nuclear Medicine and Radiology Services Through the Implementation of Quality Management Programmes”
Having attended this workshop, I am more excited to be part of QUATRO, both as an auditor and as an expert of the centre to be audited.