Quality assurance and continuing quality improvement are integral parts of any radiation oncology practice. With increasingly conformal radiation treatments, it has become critical to focus on every slice of the target contour to ensure adequate tumor coverage and optimal normal tissue sparing. Proton therapy centers open internationally with increasing frequency, and radiation oncologists with varying degrees of subspecialization apply proton therapy in daily practice. Precise treatment with proton therapy allows us to limit toxicity but requires in-depth knowledge of the unique properties of proton beam delivery. To address this need at our proton therapy center, we developed a comprehensive peer review program to help improve the quality of care that we were providing for our patients.
We implemented a policy of comprehensive peer review for all patients treated at our community proton facility starting in January 2013. Peer review begins at the time of referral with prospective cases being reviewed for appropriateness for proton therapy at daily rounds. There is then biweekly review of target contouring and treatment plans.
During a 6-month period from June 2013 to November 2013, a total of 223 new patients were treated. Documentation of peer review at chart rounds was completed for 222 of the 223 patients (99.6%). An average of 10.7 cases were reviewed in each biweekly chart rounds session, with a total of 560 case presentations. The average time required for contour review was 145 seconds (±71 seconds) and plan review was 120 seconds (±64 seconds). Modifications were suggested for 21 patients (7.9%) during contour review and for 19 patients (6.4%) during treatment plan review. An average of 4 physicians were present at each session.
We demonstrated that the implementation of a comprehensive, prospective peer review program is feasible in the community setting. This article can serve as a framework for future quality assurance programs.