Mitigating disruptions, and scalability of radiation oncology physics work during the COVID-19 pandemic

Arash Darafsheh, Hossein Lavvafi, Reza Taleei, Rao Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to disorder in work and livelihood of a majority of the modern world. In this work, we review its major impacts on procedures and workflow of clinical physics tasks, and suggest alternate pathways to avoid major disruption or discontinuity of physics tasks in the context of small, medium, and large radiation oncology clinics. We also evaluate scalability of medical physics under the stress of “social distancing”. Methods: Three models of facilities characterized by the number of clinical physicists, daily patient throughput, and equipment were identified for this purpose. For identical objectives of continuity of clinical operations, with constraints such as social distancing and unavailability of staff due to system strain, however with the possibility of remote operations, the performance of these models was investigated. General clinical tasks requiring on-site personnel presence or otherwise were evaluated to determine the scalability of the three models at this point in the course of disease spread within their surroundings. Results: The clinical physics tasks within three models could be divided into two categories. The former, which requires individual presence, include safety-sensitive radiation delivery, high dose per fraction treatments, brachytherapy procedures, fulfilling state and nuclear regulatory commission's requirements, etc. The latter, which can be handled through remote means, include dose planning, physics plan review and supervision of quality assurance, general troubleshooting, etc. Conclusion: At the current level of disease in the United States, all three models have sustained major system stress in continuing reduced operation. However, the small clinic model may not perform if either the current level of infections is maintained for long or staff becomes unavailable due to health issues. With abundance, and diversity of innovative resources, medium and large clinic models can sustain further for physics-related radiotherapy services.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of applied clinical medical physics
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020

Keywords

  • contingency plan
  • coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • medical physics
  • pandemic
  • radiation oncology

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