A Blinded, Prospective Study of Error Detection During Physician Chart Rounds in Radiation Oncology

Wesley J. Talcott, Holly Lincoln, Jacqueline R. Kelly, Lauren Tressel, Lynn D. Wilson, Roy H. Decker, Eric Ford, Pehr E. Hartvigson, Todd Pawlicki, Suzanne B. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Purpose: Peer review during physician chart rounds is a major quality assurance and patient safety step in radiation oncology. However, the effectiveness of chart rounds in detecting problematic treatment plans is unknown. We performed a prospective blinded study of error detection at chart rounds to clarify the effectiveness of this quality assurance step. Methods and Materials: Radiation Oncology Incident Learning System publications were queried for problematic plans approved for treatment that would be detectable at chart rounds. A resident physician, physicist, and dosimetrist collaboratively generated 20 treatment plans with simulated errors identical in nature to those reported to the Radiation Oncology Incident Learning System. These were inserted randomly into weekly chart rounds over 9 weeks, with a median of 2 problematic plans presented per chart rounds (range, 1-4). Data were collected on detection, attendance, length, and number of cases presented at chart rounds. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and univariable logistic regression with odds ratios. Results: The median length of chart rounds over the study period was 60 minutes (range, 42-79); median number of cases presented per chart rounds was 45 (range, 38-50). The overall detection rate was 55% (11 of 20). Detection rates were higher for cases presented earlier in chart rounds: 75% versus 25% of problematic plans were detected within 30 minutes of start of chart rounds versus after 30 minutes (odds ratio, 0.11; 95% confidence interval, 0.01–0.88; P = .037). Detection rates showed a trend toward increase during the study period but this was not significant: 33% in weeks 1 to 5 and 73% during weeks 6 to 9 (5.3; 95% confidence interval, 0.78–36; P = .08). Conclusions: The detection of clinically significant problematic plans during chart rounds could be significantly improved. Problematic plans are more frequently detected earlier in chart rounds and inserting such plans into chart rounds may enhance detection; however, larger studies are needed to confirm these findings. A multi-institutional study is planned.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-320
Number of pages9
JournalPractical Radiation Oncology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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