Prolonged total treatment times (TTTs) beyond 56 days are associated with worse outcomes for cervical cancer treated with radiation therapy. We reviewed treatment times in a cohort of 24 consecutive patients treated with definitive chemoradiation (CRT) at our institution and found that only 14 patients (58.3%) completed treatment in less than or equal to 56 days. The primary objectives of this institutional quality improvement initiative were to identify sources for delays in treatment completion and to implement effective measures in an effort to minimise prolonged TTT. Pareto plot and process mapping were used to identify and resolve root causes of prolonged treatment. The Plan-Do-Study-Act method was then implemented to reduce treatment duration. Post-intervention treatment times were prospectively evaluated in 81 subsequent patients treated with definitive CRT. Process mapping identified inefficiencies with scheduling, staggered treatments and inadequate patient and staff education. Institutional changes were implemented, heavily utilising oncology nurses’ skill set in staff re-education and care coordination. Our workflow was redesigned to reduce/eliminate treatment delays. These interventions led to a significant improvement in the percentage of patients meeting the goal TTT compared with the pre-intervention cohort (85.2% vs 58.3%, p<0.01), and results were sustainable in additional 47 patients prospectively followed subsequently, potentially making a positive impact on their treatment outcomes.
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