The Use of Failure Mode and Effect Analysis in a Radiation Oncology Setting: The Cancer Treatment Centers of America Experience

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Delivering radiation therapy in an oncology setting is a high-risk process where system failures are more likely to occur because of increasing utilization, complexity, and sophistication of the equipment and related processes. Healthcare failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA) is a method used to proactively detect risks to the patient in a particular healthcare process and correct potential errors before adverse events occur. FMEA is a systematic, multidisciplinary team-based approach to error prevention and enhancing patient safety. We describe our experience of using FMEA as a prospective risk-management technique in radiation oncology at a national network of oncology hospitals in the United States, capitalizing not only on the use of a team-based tool but also creating momentum across a network of collaborative facilities seeking to learn from and share best practices with each other. The major steps of our analysis across 4 sites and collectively were: choosing the process and subprocesses to be studied, assembling a multidisciplinary team at each site responsible for conducting the hazard analysis, and developing and implementing actions related to our findings. We identified 5 areas of performance improvement for which risk-reducing actions were successfully implemented across our enterprise.

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