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Med Phys. 2011 Sep;38(9):5067-72. doi: 10.1118/1.3600524.

Safety considerations for IMRT: executive summary.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5010, USA.


This report on intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is part of a series of white papers addressing patient safety commissioned by the American Society for Radiation Oncology's (ASTRO) Target Safely Campaign. The document has been approved by the ASTRO Board of Directors, endorsed by the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) and American Association of Medical Dosimetrists (AAMD), and reviewed and accepted by the American College of Radiology's Commission on Radiation Oncology. This report is related to other reports of the ASTRO white paper series on patient safety which are still in preparation, and when appropriate it defers to guidance that will be published by those groups in future white papers. This document takes advantage of the large body of work on quality assurance and quality control principles within radiation oncology whenever possible. IMRT provides increased capability to conform isodose distributions to the shape of the target(s), thereby reducing dose to some adjacent critical structures. This promise of IMRT is one of the reasons for its widespread use. However, the promise of IMRT is counterbalanced by the complexity of the IMRT planning and delivery processes, and the associated risks, some of which have been demonstrated by the New York Times reports on serious accidents involving both IMRT and other radiation treatment modalities. This report provides an opportunity to broadly address safe delivery of IMRT, with a primary focus on recommendations for human error prevention and methods to reduce the occurrence of errors or machine malfunctions that can lead to catastrophic failures or errors.

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