The technical aspects of quality assurance (QA) in radiation oncology as practice in the United States will be reviewed and updated in the spirit of offering the experience to the radiation oncology communities in the Asia-Pacific region. The word “technical” is used to express the organisational components or processes and not the materials within the QA program. A comprehensive QA program in radiation oncology will have an official statement declaring the quality plan for effective patient care services it provides in a document. The QA program will include all aspects of patient care: physical, clinical, and medical aspects of the services. The document will describe the organisational structure, responsibilities, checks and procedures, and resources allocated to ensure the successful implementation of the quality of patient management. Regulatory guidelines and guidelines from accreditation agencies should be incorporated in the QA program to ensure compliance. The organisational structure will have a multidisciplinary QA committee that has the authority to evaluate continuously the effectiveness of the QA program to provide prompt corrective recommendations and to request feedback as needed to monitor the response. The continuous monitoring aspects require meetings to be held at regular intervals with the minutes of the meetings officially recorded and documented. To ensure that a QA program is effective, the program itself should be audited for quality at regular intervals at least annually. It has been recognised that the current QA program has not kept abreast with the rapid implementation of new and advanced radiation therapy technologies with the most recent in image-based radiation therapy technology. The societal bodies (ASTRO and AAPM) and federal agency (NCI) acknowledge this inadequacy and have held workshops to address this issue. The challenges for the societal bodies and federal agency are numerous that include (a) the prescriptive methodology used may not be appropriate for currently implemented new technologies, (b) resources are becoming scarce, (c) advanced radiation therapy technologies have been introduced too rapidly, (d) advances in radiation therapy technologies have become too sophisticated and specialised with each therapy modality having its own separate set of equipment, for example its own dose planning software, computer system and dose delivery systems requiring individualised QA procedures. At the present time, industrial engineers are being recruited to assist in devising a methodology that is broad-based and more process-oriented risk-based formulation of QA in radiation oncology.
Keywords: quality assurance, radiation therapy, treatment planning