Letter to the Editor SMH
Australian cancer patients can be assured of their safe exposure in Radiation Oncology treatments through regular Quality Assurance programs conducted by Medical Physicists (SMH 11/11/2010 “Size of radiation dose in doubt”). These programs are based on international protocols recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA: TRS398 standard).
Australia has several programs in place to ensure that linear accelerators are accurately calibrated. Public and private Radiation Oncology departments have been regularly audited by the IAEA/WHO audit system for more than 30 years. Many centres are also assessed by the Radiological Physics Centre, USA.
Locally, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency provides radiation dose audit service for radiotherapy providers in Australia. Approximately 33% of all photon beams were audited recently, with all beams found within tolerance. In a recent study using a dummy patient, dose delivery to the pelvis at 35 Australian/NZ centres was within +/- 4% in 99% of cases and all within 7%. In 2011 the Australian Clinical Dosimetry Service will become operational. This will further extend audits to higher complexity treatment planning and delivery capabilities, building on the already thorough quality assurance programs.
The Australasian College of Physical Scientist and Engineers in Medicine (ACPSEM) maintains a register of Qualified Medical Physicists able to provide the required level of expertise for quality assurance on the medical use of radiation. The ACPSEM also runs training, education and an accreditation program to provide the Medical Physics workforce for Australia's future.
Associate Professor Eva Bezak
Australasian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine
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