Clinical implementation and failure mode and effects analysis of HDR skin brachytherapy using Valencia and Leipzig surface applicators

Brachytherapy. 2015 Mar-Apr;14(2):293-9. doi: 10.1016/j.brachy.2014.11.007. Epub 2014 Dec 13.


Purpose: The planning procedure for Valencia and Leipzig surface applicators (VLSAs) (Nucletron, Veenendaal, The Netherlands) differs substantially from CT-based planning; the unfamiliarity could lead to significant errors. This study applies failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) to high-dose-rate (HDR) skin brachytherapy using VLSAs to ensure safety and quality.

Method: A multidisciplinary team created a protocol for HDR VLSA skin treatments and applied FMEA. Failure modes were identified and scored by severity, occurrence, and detectability. The clinical procedure was then revised to address high-scoring process nodes.

Results: Several key components were added to the protocol to minimize risk probability numbers. (1) Diagnosis, prescription, applicator selection, and setup are reviewed at weekly quality assurance rounds. Peer review reduces the likelihood of an inappropriate treatment regime. (2) A template for HDR skin treatments was established in the clinic's electronic medical record system to standardize treatment instructions. This reduces the chances of miscommunication between the physician and planner as well as increases the detectability of an error. (3) A screen check was implemented during the second check to increase detectability of an error. (4) To reduce error probability, the treatment plan worksheet was designed to display plan parameters in a format visually similar to the treatment console display, facilitating data entry and verification. (5) VLSAs are color coded and labeled to match the electronic medical record prescriptions, simplifying in-room selection and verification.

Conclusions: Multidisciplinary planning and FMEA increased detectability and reduced error probability during VLSA HDR brachytherapy. This clinical model may be useful to institutions implementing similar procedures.

Keywords: Brachytherapy; FMEA; Failure modes and effects analysis; HDR; Leipzig; Quality; Safety; Skin; Surface applicator; Valencia.

MeSH terms

  • Brachytherapy / instrumentation*
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Skin Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Treatment Failure