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The American Society for Radiation Oncology and the American Association of Physicists in Medicine have launched a new national patient safety initiative, RO-ILS: Radiation Oncology Incident Learning System, an online portal that will allow radiation oncology centers to provide non-patient-specific data about radiation therapy near-misses and safety incidents that have occurred at their facility in a secure, non-punitive environment.

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"The complex and highly specialized radiation care we deliver to cure cancers and to treat more than one million patients each year requires that we be continually vigilant to ensure the safety of our patients and our radiation oncology care team," Colleen A.F. Lawton, MD, FASTRO, Chair of ASTRO's Board of Directors, said in a news release. "We are grateful that Congress, through the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005, provides us with the necessary protections to use RO-ILS to gather invaluable patient safety information as we strive to provide the safest and highest quality radiation treatments." "One error is too many, and learning from near-misses is crucial to averting errors."


The RO-ILS platform will allow centers to track and analyze their data through a secure online interface. There are no fees for radiation therapy centers to participate, and it can be used as a stand-alone incident learning system or as a complement to an institution's existing system.


A panel of experts chosen by ASTRO and AAPM-the Radiation Oncology Healthcare Advisory Council-will work with Clarity PSO, the independent PSO contracted to develop and to administer RO-ILS, to analyze the aggregate data and inform radiation oncology safety procedures and processes, best practices, practice guidelines, and/or recommendations.


"Patient safety events are often too rare for a facility to identify causal factors with certainty," Jeffrey Brady, MD, MPH, Director of the Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, said during a Congressional Briefing in June when the new initiative was announced.


"Each provider benefits from the insights that it can obtain from PSOs that aggregate large volumes of event data from multiple providers."


RO-ILS also includes a Practice Quality Improvement (PQI) template as a free companion to the RO-ILS portal. The RO-ILS PQI template is qualified for physicians and physicists by the American Board of Radiology (ABR) in meeting the criteria for practice quality improvement, toward the purpose of fulfilling requirements in the ABR Maintenance of Certification Program. As a PQI project, radiation oncology practices participating in RO-ILS will complete two consecutive cycles of the four-part Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) process for quality improvement using the RO-ILS online portal to submit and internally track events.


The RO-ILS program was tested and evaluated in September 2013 in large academic centers, community hospitals, and freestanding clinics.


Clarity PSO is a division of Clarity Group, Inc., a health care professional liability risk management organization. Neither Clarity PSO nor Clarity Group, Inc. is affiliated with ASTRO, the organization noted; they are independent entities providing PSO services to the radiation oncology practices enrolled in RO-ILS.


More information on participation in RO-ILS is available at