American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) Chairman Leonard Gunderson, MD, MS, FASTRO, has testifeid before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on provisions of the Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility, and Excellence in Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy Act of 2011 (CARE Act) related to training and credentialing for medical imaging and radiation therapy technologists.
ASTRO strongly supports immediate passage of the CARE Act, which sets needed education and certification standards for radiation therapists, medical physicists and medical dosimetrists – critical members of the team that delivers radiation therapy to cancer patients. Setting these minimum standards will help to ensure patients are treated accurately and safely and lead to fewer complications.
Today’s hearing, “Examining the Appropriateness of Standards for Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy Technologists,” will examine the current state of training, identify any areas of deficiency and suggest ways of ensuring personnel have the appropriate background in the technical components of delivering treatments.
ASTRO has a long history of advocating to Congress on the need for improved safety in radiation therapy and creating minimum education and credentialing standards for treatment team members. This is also a core component of Target Safely, ASTRO’s patient protection initiative, which was established in 2009 to ensure patients are receiving the safest treatments for their cancer.
Dr. Gunderson’s testimony informed Congress and the public that radiation therapy has been used for over 100 years as a safe and effective treatment for cancer with minimal side effects and that ASTRO is a leader in ensuring this continues. The testimony outlined several safety and patient quality initiatives the Society is working on to improve the quality of patient treatment and care, including:
- Building on the bipartisan Patient Safety Act of 2005 by beginning work with a certified Patient Safety Organization to create the first national medical error reporting system for radiation oncology.
- Assisting the Radiation Oncology Institute, ASTRO’s foundation, in developing the National Radiation Oncology Registry, which will improve cancer patients’ care by capturing real-time information on radiation treatment delivery and health outcomes.
- Supporting physician participation in maintenance of certification activities and other continuing medical education programs to ensure all physicians are up-to-date on the latest treatment approaches.
These initiatives together with the CARE Act can prevent medical errors that can occur in a complex treatment such as radiation therapy.
Dr. Gunderson testified that ASTRO wants patients to have peace of mind when it comes to safety, quality and efficacy of radiation therapy, and the CARE Act is a critical step toward that goal. ASTRO looks forward to working with Congress on additional policies that could be implemented to further enhance the quality of care patients receive.