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How safe is radiotherapy practice in India: perceptions and practical experiences among the workers of radiotherapy facilities in North East, India?

  • Dewan Thokchom Singh (a1) (a2)

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this study was to understand how the regulatory requirements for functioning radiotherapy practices in India to control risk were conceptualised, perceived and applied accordingly in the radiotherapy facilities. It further examined how the social factors influenced the decision-making process for implementing regulatory requirements in the radiotherapy facilities.

Material and method

This study was carried out in nine radiotherapy facilities located in the northeastern Indian states of Manipur, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. The study adopted both the semi-structured and in-depth questionnaire, developed on the basis of multidisciplinary fields.

Result

The study found that the facilities in the northeastern regions were commissioned in line with the regulatory requirements. The facilities had adequate structural shielding rooms to protect workers, patients and the public from the risk of ionising radiation. However, in the operational phase of the facilities, majority of the facilities had the improper management of existing resources and non-implementation of regulatory requirements on time. It was observed that workers in some facilities continued the practice, despite the failure of specific safety functions, or not meeting regulatory requirements. Such practices led to the suspension of patient treatment in three of the facilities by the regulator. The existence of a varying nature of risk perceptions among oncologists, medical physicists, radiological safety officers, radiotherapy technologists in the facilities were observed and these influenced the decision-making process of the facilities on the implementation of regulatory requirements.

Conclusion

The study found that the facilities needed to explore various means, including to narrow the gap that existed in respects of perceived risk (within the facilities), communication to enhance work coordination and mutual trust among workers. The adoption of the institutional policy for conducting an internal audit of working practices, encouragement of workers to participate in continuing education programs would enhance effective utilisation of already existing infrastructure/equipment and work procedures including quality assurance programs.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Dewan Thokchom Singh, School of Habitat Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, V.N. Purav Marg, Deonar, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400088, India. Tel: +91 22 25990674. E-mail: tdsaerb@gmail.com

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Keywords

How safe is radiotherapy practice in India: perceptions and practical experiences among the workers of radiotherapy facilities in North East, India?

  • Dewan Thokchom Singh (a1) (a2)

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