BMJ Qual Improv Report 6: doi:10.1136/bmjquality.u216501.w7906
  • BMJ Quality Improvement Programme

Improving the safety of chemotherapy prescribing in oncology through the introduction of an assessment proforma

  1. Caroline Forde
  1. Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, UK
  1. Correspondence to Paula Scullin paula.scullin{at}
  • Received 28 October 2016
  • Revision requested 31 October 2016
  • Revised 2 November 2016
  • Published 31 March 2017


Chemotherapy remains a high risk treatment with the potential to cause significant patient morbidity and mortality. In the UK the Manual for Cancer Services: Chemotherapy Measures provides national quality measures for essential elements that should be incorporated and documented in chemotherapy assessments.

It was recognised that in the outpatient oncology chemotherapy unit in the Cancer Centre, Belfast City Hospital, Northern Ireland, that the written records of chemotherapy assessments were sub-optimal. At baseline (December 2015) median completion of chemotherapy assessment documentation was only 63%, based on a scoring system incorporating key assessment parameters from the Manual for Cancer Services and Belfast Trust standards for record keeping. A target of median chemotherapy assessment documentation being at least 95% complete was set.

A paper chemotherapy assessment proforma was developed and introduced over an eight month period, using small tests of change and continuous data collection and feedback. The proportion of chemotherapy assessments documented using the proforma increased, as it was adjusted to be more user friendly and particularly after it started being pre-filed in medical notes.

Increased use of the proforma correlated with improvement in completeness of chemotherapy assessment documentation. From week 29 to project completion (week 33), following proformas being routinely pre-filed and uptake increasing, assessments were on average 97% complete. Documentation of a patient's performance status, a critical aspect of the assessment, also improved to a median of 99% over the last seven weeks of the project from a baseline of 88%. The proforma has been positively viewed by staff with 94% agreeing it promotes safety.

The introduction of a chemotherapy assessment proforma is a simple measure which can result in improved documentation of chemotherapy assessments, including performance status. It also serves as a prompt for safe decision making regarding chemotherapy prescriptions, enhancing the quality of outpatient chemotherapy care being delivered.

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