To describe in detail British Columbia (BC) Cancer Agency (BCCA) Provincial Prostate Brachytherapy (PB) Quality Assurance (QA) Program.
The BCCA PB Program was established in 1997. It operates as one system, unified and supported by electronic and information systems, making it a single PB treatment provider for province of BC and Yukon. To date, >4000 patients have received PB (450 implants in 2011), making it the largest program in Canada. The Program maintains a large provincial prospective electronic database with records on all patients, including disease characteristics, risk stratification, pathology, preplan and postimplant dosimetric data, follow-up of prostate-specific antigen, and toxicity outcomes.
QA was an integral part of the program since its inception. A formal QA Program was established in 2002, with key components that include: unified eligibility criteria and planning system, comprehensive database, physics and oncologist training and mentorship programs, peer review process, individual performance outcomes and feedback process, structured continuing education and routine assessment of the program's dosimetry, toxicity and prostate-specific antigen outcomes, administration and program leadership that promotes a strong culture of patient safety. The emphasis on creating a robust, broad-based network of skilled providers has been achieved by the program's requirements for training, education, and the QA process.
The formal QA process is considered a key factor for the success of cancer control outcomes achieved at BCCA. Although this QA model may not be wholly transferable to all PB programs, some of its key components may be applicable to other programs to ensure quality in PB and patient safety.