Patient safety

International conference on modern radiotherapy

2-4 December 2009
Versailles, France

Professor Michael Barton (Australia) and Dr Douglas Noble (United Kingdom) presented on the process of development and outcomes of the WHO Patient Safety Radiotherapy Risk Profile at this conference in Versailles in early December.

About the conference

The conference was hosted by the Autorité de Sureté Nucléaire (ASN) in France. ASN have a significant interest in patient safety and radiotherapy safety, stemming from the Epinal accident in 2004. This adverse event over-treated more than 300 prostate cancer patients by 20%. The World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Commission all played major roles in the event.

The conference highlighted that fact that despite the great benefits being derived from radiotherapy, as technology continues to rapidly improve there are also risks to patients. Education, inspection and quality assurance were major themes of the event, which provided an excellent forum to analyse and review errors and current mitigation strategies.

About the WHO Radiotherapy Risk Profile

In 2008 WHO Patient Safety published the Radiotherapy Risk Profile. This was the end result of a year-long international consultation involving representatives from all WHO regions, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) in England and Wales. The risk profile conducted an extensive study into the epidemiology of error in radiotherapy and agreed an international standard for the process of care in radiotherapy, mapping the risks at each stage.