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Patient assessment (RT specific)


Radiation therapists provide ongoing patient assessment to ensure quality care


+ Importance of ongoing patient assessment

  • Radiation therapists have daily contact with their patients; therefore, they have the opportunity to build relationships over the continuum of care and gain understanding of the patient’s requirements and preferences for care.
  • This contact allows close observation of the patient’s progress through their treatment and opportunity to continually and systematically:1
    • Assess signs, symptoms, and well-being
    • Recommend interventions
    • Evaluate the effectiveness of interventions
    • Follow up
    • Document


  • Effective patient assessment in a radiation therapy setting has been demonstrated to improve patient outcomes.2

+ Ongoing assessment in practice

  • Radiation therapists are responsible for assessing each patient daily prior to, during and after treatment delivery.3,4
    • The assessment should be factual and objective while incorporating the patient’s self-reported symptoms
    • Information is gathered from the patient through observation and inquiry
    • A systematic, site specific assessment is essential


  • A daily assessment of patients includes (but is not limited to) assessment of:3,4
    • Symptoms
    • Side effects
    • Emotional well-being
    • Informational needs


  • The specific elements and actions taken to assess a patient are bounded and defined by the Radiation therapist’s scope of practice.

+ Documentation

  • Radiation therapists initiate contact, make referrals, follow up and document when patients require referral to other healthcare providers.
  • All information received from and given to the patient is thoroughly documented in the patient’s radiation treatment record.
    • Prior to daily treatment delivery, Radiation therapists review the patient’s radiation treatment record for notes from the healthcare team
    • Evidence-based validated toxicity scoring tools are recommended for use in addition to descriptive patient care notes


  • All actions taken by Radiation therapists are also documented.

+ References

  1. Washington C, Leaver D. Principles and Practices of Radiation Therapy, 3rd ed. St. Lois, MO: Mosby; 2010.
  2. Gagliardi AR, Dobrow MJ, Wright FC. How can we improve cancer care? A review of interprofessional collaboration models and their use in clinical management. Surg Oncol 2011;20(3):146-154.
  3. Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists. Radiation Therapy Competency Profile. Revised January 2011. Available at: AccessedMay 3, 2013.
  4. American Society of Radiologic Technologists. The Practice Standards for Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy: Radiation Therapy Practice Standards. Available at: Accessed February 22, 2013.



May 8, 2013


Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists
85 Albert St, Suite 1000, Ottawa, ON, K1P 6A4
phone: 613 234-0012 / 800 463-9729
fax: 613 234-1097