UPMC CancerCenter: Leading the Way in Radiation Oncology

By: Dwight E. Heron, M.D., FACRO, FACR, director of Radiation Services, UPMC CancerCenter

In the fight against cancer, radiation is one of the tools often used to treat patients, either alone or in combination with other therapies. Radiation oncology involves specialized skill and knowledge of the latest technology to ensure patients are receiving the highest quality of care. At the UPMCCancerCenter, we’ve been providing that care to patients in and around Pittsburgh at 21 centers dedicated to radiation oncology.
So it was with great pride that we learned this month that the AmericanCollege of Radiation Oncology (ACRO) had given our centers accreditation, a move that makes the UPMC CancerCenter the largest accredited radiation oncology network in the United States, and the only one with this stamp of approval in the region. This is an important distinction for us and especially our patients because the validation from ACRO means we are following the highest standards and providing the best care possible in the treatment of cancer and other benign diseases.
ACRO is the only national accreditation body dedicated to radiation oncology. As part of the accreditation process, ACRO sent teams of specialists to our facilities over the past year in a rigorous process to evaluate everything from staff certifications to patient charts. The standards that help us excel include:
  • Peer Review. While sites with multiple physicians peer review each other during weekly chart rounds, we also connect sites with one physician, via web-based modules, to their colleagues on a weekly basis to discuss one another’s cases.  This ensures another pair of eyes and ideas, harnessing the power of our collective experience that is uniquely UPMC.
  • Team Environment. All of our staff are involved in the treatment of patients, from the physician and nurses to radiation therapists and physicists.
  • Staffing. We ensure proper staffing to provide high quality care and ensure all staff have the proper licenses and certifications. Education programs are also in place to constantly improve staff competence across a variety of domains.
  • Patient Safety. All treatment equipment is thoroughly checked daily, monthly and annually to ensure optimal performance and compliance with regulatory requirements .  Safety procedures are continually evaluated to ensure that patients and staff are protected.
  • Quality Management. Many quality assurance and quality control processes are in place to ensure that patients receive intended treatment. We are always looking for ways to improve our system through Continuous Quality Improvement Initiatives and constantly strive to achieve high patient satisfaction, process optimization, and effective communication among the entire treatment team.  The UPMC CancerCenter focuses efforts on not maintaining, but excelling and leading others to do the same.
UPMC CancerCenter, a partner in cancer care with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, is western Pennsylvania’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. We’re proud of our work here, the services we provide and the high standards we adhere to, whether it be at the bedside or in the lab. We’re glad that ACRO agreed.