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Quality and Safety in Radiation Oncology



Sarah Lombardi is the regional quality safety coordinator for Yale New Haven Hospital's Department of Radiation Oncology. Sarah Lombardi was a speaker at the 2019 Annual Meeting; her presentation was "The Evolving Role of a Quality and Safety Coordinator."

Lombardi joins SROA Soundboard - a podcast for Radiation Oncology Administrators. Lombardi shares her experience as a quality and safety coordinator and what her role entails:

  • Performs event reviews and classifies safety events based on hospital's standardized classification system;
  • Conducts confidential one-on-one interviews with staff members involved in safety events; and
  • Present facts of the event in an unbiased manner.


The quality aspect of the position entails looking at work processes, and workflows to figure out how processes can improve to create positive safety culture as well as accountability within radiation oncology.

Communication with leadership is integral to the role. 

We communicate safety concerns to leadership to be an effective change agent about safety concerns raised by our staff members. We're tasked with recognizing at-risk behaviors and communicating those risks, regardless of who's involved, whether it be managers or physicians. By having a dedicated quality and safety position, you can drive that culture change that's needed.

Lombardi's background as a radiation therapist was one of her biggest challenges when she assumed the quality and safety coordinator role. Typically, a physician lead or direct manager serves as a quality and safety coordinator.  Lombardi says she has succeeded by establishing trust and decreasing the culture of blame by approaching safety incidents and investigations without bias. 

She says the role is evolving as more radiation therapists are being tasked as quality and safety coordinators.

Radiation therapists are really the critical frontline staff members who identifying and catch errors. They have a communication and handoff process with pretty much every modality within the department. And they're a critical piece in process improvement, workflow improvement, and really, being that patient advocate and protecting that patient.


Tune in to the podcast to hear about

  • A quality and safety coordinator's position in an organization
  • The position's priority of the position in cancer care
  • Working with quality and safety committees within the organization
  • Reporting incidents and systems in place 
  • Accreditation and improvements in safety and radiation therapy
  • The importance of the role within an organization


We want to hear from you!

Have you been tasked as a quality and safety coordinator in your department? If, so share what steps you took to prepare for the position.


Listen to the podcast here 

Don't have time to listen, check out the written transcript here.


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