Radiation Therapy

The Provincial Radiation Therapy Program and BC PSLS Central Office are working together to enhance reporting and learning from radiation treatment events in BC PSLS. This provincial project builds on a national initiative led by the Canadian Partnership for Quality Radiotherapy (CPQR) and the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), which aims to identify trends in radiation treatment safety across the country.

Learning from radiation treatment events and near misses is integral to improving patient safety in this area. In Canada, radiation treatment programs have internal monitoring and reporting systems to drive quality improvement locally, but there is a growing need to share this information with other Canadian cancer centres in a coordinated, large-scale manner to promote system-wide learning and action. To date, this type of collaboration has been difficult to achieve, mainly due to inconsistencies in data collection practices across the county and a lack of coordinated processes to communicate across jurisdictions.

The good news: things are about to change and British Columbia is actively taking part in this exciting initiative – a first for the Canadian healthcare system!

The first step in standardizing radiation treatment event reporting across Canada was the development of a taxonomy that would clarify the scope of events that should be reported and allow data to be classified in a logical, consistent and reproducible format. The Canadian Partnership for Quality Radiotherapy (CPQR) led this initial phase with input from experts from across the country. CPQR then partnered with CIHI to add a new module to CIHI’s National System for Incident Reporting – Radiation Treatment (NSIR-RT), and standardized forms and fields were created. In BC, the Provincial Radiation Therapy Program teamed up with BC PSLS Central Office to build on the work done by CPQR and CIHI and develop a new specialized report form for BC Cancer Agency (BCCA) cancer centres.

John French, Senior Director at BC Cancer Agency (BCCA), says this initiative is a significant step towards improving radiation treatment safety for patients in BC and across Canada.

“Adverse events in radiation therapy are relatively rare and hard to analyze and learn from at a department level – but when you have robust data at a national level you have the ability to look at more macro-level data, and to learn from things that happen across the country – this can only help to make radiation therapy safer across BC and the whole of Canada.”

Feedback from users in BC’s six regional cancer centres will be collected and offered to CIHI to help inform the evolution of NSIR-RT. Eventually, BC PSLS radiation treatment event data will be shared with CIHI for inclusion in the central data repository, NSIR-RT. The anonymized information will then be available to radiation treatment programs across the country, supporting the creation of system-wide alerts, recommendations and improvements. NSIR-RT also enables cancer centres from across the country to communicate with each other to discuss radiation treatment safety without revealing confidential information about patients, healthcare providers or organizations.

Sue Fuller-Blamey, Corporate Director, Quality, Safety and Outcome Improvement for BCCA, is part of the project steering committee and an enthusiastic supporter of this initiative.

“Staff and leaders at BCCA are committed to making sure they provide the best care for their patients. This is wonderful that we now have new radiation treatment terminology that is more detailed and more meaningful for staff to report in BC PSLS. The new taxonomy takes into account the specific types of things that can go wrong in radiation treatment, and includes specific options for potential causes.”

Radiation Button2Radiation Therapists (RTs) provided valuable input into a campaign and slogan – Make patient safety cool…use the PSLS tool! – to help spread the word to BCCA staff. RTs and leaders will be seen wearing buttons with the new radiation treatment report form icon and posters will be on display at computer terminals throughout BCCA facilities.

Go Live for the new radiation treatment patient safety event form at BCCA is June 20th.




BC PSLS Central Office would like to acknowledge and thank members of the Provincial Radiation Therapy Program and other participants from BC Cancer Agency for their input and assistance with developing the new radiation treatment patient safety reporting form and processes.

BC Cancer Agency covers the entire spectrum of cancer care for the people of BC, treating nearly 20,000 new patients and administering over 200,000 radiation treatments annually. Any BC PSLS data submitted to CIHI NSIR-RT is owned by BCCA, is accessible to authorized individuals only, and adheres to strict privacy and confidentiality standards.

For more information, please contact John French, JFrench2@bccancer.bc.ca or Sue Fuller-Blamey, sfxblamey@phsa.ca.  

Learn more about:

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This