The purpose of this guideline is to provide a list of critical performance tests in order to assist the Qualified Medical Physicist (QMP) in establishing and maintaining a safe and effective quality assurance (QA) program. The performance tests on a linear accelerator (linac) should be selected to fit the clinical patterns of use of the accelerator and care should be given to perform tests which are relevant to detecting errors related to the specific use of the accelerator.
A risk assessment was performed on tests from current task group reports on linac QA to highlight those tests that are most effective at maintaining safety and quality for the patient. Recommendations are made on the acquisition of reference or baseline data, the establishment of machine isocenter on a routine basis, basing performance tests on clinical use of the linac, working with vendors to establish QA tests and performing tests after maintenance.
The recommended tests proposed in this guideline were chosen based on the results from the risk analysis and the consensus of the guideline’s committee. The tests are grouped together by class of test (e.g., dosimetry, mechanical, etc.) and clinical parameter tested. Implementation notes are included for each test so that the QMP can understand the overall goal of each test.
This guideline will assist the QMP in developing a comprehensive QA program for linacs in the external beam radiation therapy setting. The committee sought to prioritize tests by their implication on quality and patient safety. The QMP is ultimately responsible for implementing appropriate tests. In the spirit of the report from American Association of Physicists in Medicine Task Group 100, individual institutions are encouraged to analyze the risks involved in their own clinical practice and determine which performance tests are relevant in their own radiotherapy clinics.