Federal Hospitals Could Improve Certain Cancer Treatment Capability by Sharing

HRD-79-42: Published: Feb 7, 1979. Publicly Released: Feb 7, 1979.

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The Department of Defense (DOD) and certain other Federal agencies provide cancer care in the form of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, to eligible beneficiaries.

Radiation therapy is used in treating about 60 percent of eligible cancer patients. In 1977 there were 45 radiation therapy facilities in the Federal sector. Thirty-six of them did not meet the existing utilization standards of about 6,000 treatments per unit a year established by DOD and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). Some 8 of the 36 facilities provided less than half the treatments set forth in the standards. The Veterans Administration (VA) established a utilization standard of about 2,850 treatments per year for a radiation therapy unit. In the United States, 23 geographic locations have a high potential for sharing Federal radiation therapy facilities. Facilities in 20 of these locations were underused, and at each of the locations there were also other Federal hospitals in the same geographic area that did not have the capability to provide radiation therapy.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: DOD and HEW should: (1) direct the Federal Health Resources Sharing Committee to include in its planned work on cancer treatment facilities, a comprehensive evaluation of the sharing opportunities at the 23 geographic locations and develop, if possible, a single radiation therapy utilization criteria for all Federal facilities; (2) share the radiation therapy capability at the locations determined by the Sharing Committee to have potential; (3) defer the acquisition of a new or upgraded radiation therapy equipment until the sharing potential at the 23 geographic locations is fully evaluated; and (4) withdraw acquisition plans for radiation therapy equipment at locations where good quality radiation therapy can be provided through sharing with existing equipment. DOD should also: (1) determine the need for DOD policy guidance on cancer care and take steps to assure that both the policy and cancer treatment provided consistently reflects appropriate and up-to-date health care standards; and (2) assure that the Army, Navy, and Air Force make every effort to assign cancer treatment specialists to those medical centers considered to be cancer treatment facilities.

    Agency Affected:


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