Low-Dose Whole Thorax Radiation Therapy for COVID-19 Pneumonia: Inpatient Onboarding Process for a Randomized Controlled Trial

Link to article at PubMed

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2021 Nov 1;111(3S):e59. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2021.07.403.


PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE(S): The mortality of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19) has been associated with a pulmonary inflammatory response resulting in hypoxemia and rapid clinical decline. Recent work has indicated a potential therapeutic window for treatment to prevent ventilator-dependence thereby reducing mortality. PREVENT is an ongoing prospective multicenter Phase II randomized controlled trial where patients hospitalized with COVID-19 pneumonia are randomized to ultra-low dose radiation therapy (RT) versus control. This study is registered at clinicaltrials.gov, NCT04466683. The following is a description of the inpatient onboarding process of the center contributing the largest number of patients to this trial.

MATERIALS/METHODS: COVID-19 hospital admissions from the previous day were attained by the clinical research manager each morning, screened for eligibility, and then sent to the designated radiation oncologist who further delineated from this list. Common exclusion criteria were: 1. Oxygen saturation > 96% on room air, 2. Age < 50, 3. > 9 days from initial COVID-19 symptomatology. From this list, HIPAA-compliant text message contact was made with infectious disease, critical care, and nursing staff with reciprocal discussion of the trial protocol and approval for consulting the patient. Subsequently, a virtual consult was made with the patient, with witnessed informed consent obtained via telephone and in person by our research associate. Patients randomized to RT were treated within 24 hours of consent. Simulation and treatment were performed on a linear accelerator with one personal protective equipment-protected therapist moving in and out of the treatment room, and a second therapist manning the console. On-site dose calculation was performed by physics, after which the radiation oncologist approved the fields prior to treatment delivery. Simulation and treatment were performed without a computer plan; therapists underwent several practice sessions prior to treating patients on trial.

RESULTS: Between August 28, 2020 and October 6, 2020, the first 10 enrolled patients on this multicenter trial were randomized and treated at our institution; no research staff member nor radiation oncology clinical team member contracted COVID-19 while employing this protocol.

CONCLUSION: This represents the first published protocol to address efficient and safe recruitment of COVID-19 patients for a radiation oncology trial. Despite the procedural hurdles of conducting a trial in the midst of a pandemic, the combination of recruitment efficiency (> 2 patients/week) and safety to the research and clinical teams (no COVID-19 infections) of this protocol has allowed for the PREVENT trial to make substantial progress in meeting recruitment goals (n = 100). This onboarding process serves as a model in conducting recruitment of COVID-19 patients for clinical trials, and is worthy of emulation at additional centers.

PMID:34701818 | DOI:10.1016/j.ijrobp.2021.07.403

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