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Training and education to reduce unintended exposure

26 August 2020

Recorded broadcast →

Moderator: Debbie Gilley (IAEA)

Preseter: Mary Coffey (Ireland)

Date of broadcast: 26 August 2020, 3 pm CEST

About the webinar

It is paramount that all personnel involved in the preparation and delivery of radiotherapy have detailed knowledge on the interaction between radiation and tissue to avoid unnecessary exposure and accidents. Only by raising awareness and sharing information on the possibilities on what can go wrong and potential consequences of unintended exposure, can we expect personnel to take responsibility for their role in the process.

For instance, during radiotherapy, missing part of the tumour due to a lack of complete understanding of the importance of accurate positioning and immobilisation can result in a local recurrence, affecting the potential for cure for a patient. Newer technologies in radiotherapy can treat smaller volumes of tissue, sparing normal tissues and therefore can give higher doses. If performed incorrectly, a significant amount of damage can be induced in normal tissue, resulting in a poor quality of life for the patient. This can also occur as a result of staff not knowing the dose constraints for “Organs at Risk” and the care that must be taken in planning and setup to avoid unintended exposure.

Unintended exposures can also occur from incorrect application of shifts from reference points, poor image interpretation, or inaccurate setup procedures, all of which are preventable with appropriate training and education.

Learning objectives

  1. To learn how training and education can prevent unnecessary exposure and accidents in radiotherapy by understanding potential accident situations and their consequences. 
  2. To learn how to minimize patient risk by discussing dose constraints and strategies for planning and setup to avoid unintended exposure. 

About the presenter

Mary Coffey
Mary Coffey is an Adjunct Associate Professor attached to the Department of Radiation Therapy at the School of Medicine of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. She established the School of Radiation Therapy at St. Luke's Hospital in 1982 and led the discussions that culminated in the integration of the School into the University, which involved developing the academic and clinical curriculum and ensuring that current trends in radiotherapy were adequately reflected in the degree programme. She established the first European Committee for radiation therapists within the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and co-founded the radiation therapy committee within the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ESTRO) as well as currently chairs the ESTRO Radiation Oncology Safety and Quality Committee. Ms. Coffey is a member of the first council of the Irish Institute of Radiography and Radiation Therapy (IIRRT) and has held both Secretary and President positions. She has worked extensively with ESTRO and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to improve the standard of education of radiation therapists and the quality of treatment delivered to cancer patients. 

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