Safety in radiotherapy: Responsibilities of health professionals

What are my main responsibilities as a radiation oncologist?

You have responsibility for diagnosis, treatment, follow up and supportive care of the patient, and the primary responsibility for ensuring overall radiological protection of patients. You should:

  • Ensure that the exposure of normal tissue is kept as low as reasonably achievable while required dose is delivered to the planning target volume;
  • Establish optimized protocols for therapeutic procedures, in consultation with the medical physicist;
  • Ensure radiotherapeutic procedures of women who are pregnant or likely to be pregnant be avoided unless there are strong clinical indications;
  • Evaluate any radiation accident or incident from a medical point of view.

What are my main responsibilities as a medical radiation technologist in radiotherapy?

As a technologist you have a key role in protection of the patient. In summary, your responsibilities and duties are to:

  • Identify the patient prior to treatment occasion;
  • Administer the radiotherapy to the patient, including the correct set up and delivery;
  • Inform the physician and seek advice if the female patient is pregnant or likely to be pregnant;
  • Inform the physician in case you are concerned about an unusual reaction of patient;
  • Inform the physicist in case you are concerned about an unusual event related to a treatment unit or treatment parameters;
  • Contribute to the preparation of specifications for new equipment;
  • Contribute to the quality control of radiological equipment.

What are my main responsibilities as a medical physicist in radiotherapy?

As a medical physicist, your responsibilities are to:

  • Ensure the correct calibration of treatment units both during commissioning and on a regular basis;
  • Ensure the correctness and accuracy in patient dose calculations, both computerized and manual;
  • Design, implementing and supervising quality assurance procedures;
  • Participate in the continuing review of the radiotherapy practice’s resources (including budget, equipment and staffing), operations, policies and procedures;
  • Plan, in conjunction with the radiotherapy physician and the RPO, the facilities for radiotherapy practice;
  • Prepare performance specifications for equipment with regard to radiation protection;
  • Ensure the establishment and maintenance of a radiation protection programme for the safety of staff and the public;
  • Test equipment for acceptance, commission equipment for clinical use and supervise equipment maintenance;
  • Participate in the investigation and evaluation of incidents and accidents;
  • Contribute to the radiation protection training programme.

The current international requirements related to medical uses of ionizing radiation are established in the Radiation Protection and Safety of Radiation Sources: International Basic Safety Standards