VA-Radiation Oncology Quality Surveillance Program

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International journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics


PURPOSE: We sought to develop a quality surveillance program for approximately 15,000 US veterans treated at the 40 radiation oncology facilities at the Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals each year.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: State-of-the-art technologies were used with the goal to improve clinical outcomes while providing the best possible care to veterans. To measure quality of care and service rendered to veterans, the Veterans Health Administration established the VA Radiation Oncology Quality Surveillance program. The program carries forward the American College of Radiology Quality Research in Radiation Oncology project methodology of assessing the wide variation in practice pattern and quality of care in radiation therapy by developing clinical quality measures (QM) used as quality indices. These QM data provide feedback to physicians by identifying areas for improvement in the process of care and identifying the adoption of evidence-based recommendations for radiation therapy.

RESULTS: Disease-site expert panels organized by the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) defined quality measures and established scoring criteria for prostate cancer (intermediate and high risk), non-small cell lung cancer (IIIA/B stage), and small cell lung cancer (limited stage) case presentations. Data elements for 1567 patients from the 40 VA radiation oncology practices were abstracted from the electronic medical records and treatment management and planning systems. Overall, the 1567 assessed cases passed 82.4% of all QM. Pass rates for QM for the 773 lung and 794 prostate cases were 78.0% and 87.2%, respectively. Marked variations, however, were noted in the pass rates for QM when tumor site, clinical pathway, or performing centers were separately examined.

CONCLUSIONS: The peer-review protected VA-Radiation Oncology Surveillance program based on clinical quality measures allows providers to compare their clinical practice to peers and to make meaningful adjustments in their personal patterns of care unobtrusively.

Medical Subject Headings

Cancer Care Facilities; Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung; Evidence-Based Medicine; Hospitals, Veterans; Humans; Lung Neoplasms; Male; Peer Review; Program Development; Program Evaluation; Prostatic Neoplasms; Quality Assurance, Health Care; Quality Improvement; Quality Indicators, Health Care; Radiation Oncology; Small Cell Lung Carcinoma; Societies, Medical; United States; Veterans

PubMed ID



ePub ahead of print





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