Safety in radiation oncology: the role of international initiatives by the International Atomic Energy Agency

J Am Coll Radiol. 2011 Nov;8(11):789-94. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2011.07.014.


The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has a wide range of initiatives that address the issue of safety. Quality assurance initiatives and comprehensive audits of radiotherapy services, such as the Quality Assurance Team for Radiation Oncology, are available through the IAEA. Furthermore, the experience of the IAEA in thermoluminescence dosimetric audits has been transferred to the national level in various countries and has contributed to improvements in the quality and safety of radiotherapy. The IAEA is also involved in the development of a safety reporting and analysis system (Safety in Radiation Oncology). In addition, IAEA publications describe and analyze factors contributing to safety-related incidents around the world. The lack of sufficient trained, qualified staff members is addressed through IAEA programs. Initiatives include national, regional, and interregional technical cooperation projects, educational workshops, and fellowship training for radiation oncology professionals, as well as technical assistance in developing and initiating local radiation therapy, safety education, and training programs. The agency is also active in developing staffing guidelines and encourages advanced planning at a national level, aided by information collection systems such as the Directory of Radiotherapy Centers and technical cooperation project personnel planning, to prevent shortages of staff. The IAEA also promotes the safe procurement of equipment for radiation therapy centers within a comprehensive technical cooperation program that includes clinical, medical physics, and radiation safety aspects and review of local infrastructure (room layout, shielding, utilities, and radiation safety), the availability of qualified staff members (radiation oncologists, medical physicists, and radiation technologists and therapists), as well as relevant imaging, treatment planning, dosimetry, and quality control items. The IAEA has taken the lead in developing a comprehensive program that addresses all of these areas of concern and is actively contributing to the national and international efforts to make radiation therapy safer in all settings, including resource-limited settings.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • International Agencies / standards*
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment
  • Nuclear Energy*
  • Patient Safety
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Radiation Effects
  • Radiation Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Radiation Oncology / standards*
  • Radiation Protection / standards*
  • Radioactive Hazard Release / prevention & control
  • Safety Management
  • Total Quality Management