Radiation Oncology program earns reaccreditation

May 17, 2022
Dr Jennifer Harper, right, speaks with a resident with a CT scanner in the background
Dr. Jennifer Harper speaks with a resident. It's important for patient safety to create an environment where everyone feels confident in speaking up, she said. Photo by Jonathan Coultas

The MUSC Health Radiation Oncology program based at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center has earned a full three-year reaccreditation from the American College of Radiology.

Accreditation is a voluntary process – programs don’t have to be accredited to treat patients. But members of the Hollings team see accreditation as a way to showcase the thorough processes they have in place to ensure that patients receive the best, safest care.

“Safety is no accident” is a motto wholeheartedly embraced by Radiation Oncology, said Jennifer Harper, M.D. The department has a quality assurance program that tracks patient outcomes, implements safety measures and then conducts focus studies to measure the impact of those interventions.

head shot of Dr. Harper 
Dr. Jennifer Harper

“There has to be a dedicated team who are responsible for reviewing patient outcomes and auditing our documentation of quality metrics,” she said. “And we have that. We have that kind of commitment from our leadership in both medical physics and in radiation oncology.”

The Hollings radiation oncology team includes doctors, nurses, medical physicists, radiation therapists, dosimetrists and administrators, all of whom are focused on high-quality care. The team treats a variety of tumors and cancer types in both adults and children.

As part of an academic health center, the team also includes residents – new doctors or physicists training for a career in radiation oncology.

Harper said the group incorporates incident learning – analyzing everything that occurred in recent cases, including things that could have been handled better – into the residents’ education.

“This is a key element in engendering a culture of safety, where all levels of learners feel safe speaking up about safety concerns,” she said.

“I think it’s a critical message for patients seeking cancer care at Hollings Cancer Center – that the members of the radiation oncology department and team are invested in assurance of patient safety and quality outcomes,” she added.

She noted that the accreditation review team especially praised the group’s “very well-organized treatment and clinical records with excellent team workflows and camaraderie” as well as its “detailed symptom documentation.”

The Radiation Oncology program has been accredited since 2016. In addition, MUSC Health Tidelands Health Radiation Therapy Center in Murrells Inlet is accredited by the American College of Radiology.