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Patient Safety

Patient safety is extremely important to us at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. We do everything we can to protect our patients against unnecessary risks while in cancer treatment, whether in a clinical trial or not. At the same time, we recognize that no clinical study is without some degree of risk, and we have a number of safety procedures and practices in place.

SCCA provides treatment to cancer patients, including patients who are enrolled in clinical studies. The research, however, is done at the three SCCA parent institutions: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Medicine, and Seattle Children's.

Clinical trial research is approved and funded at the partner institutions, before SCCA is involved. SCCA is a "site for clinical practice," and patients enrolled in clinical studies conducted by the partner organizations may see their doctors, and may receive any tests or treatment that are part of a trial, at SCCA.

The federal government sets guidelines for the treatment of people who are enrolled in clinical trials, through the Office for Human Research Protections.

In addition, no patients may be enrolled in a clinical trial until the trial has been approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB). The board is responsible for evaluating proposed trials for ethical research practices, patient safety and patients' rights. IRB members include doctors, nurses, and community volunteers.

At SCCA, we have staff, including a human protections and clinical trials coordinator, who act as advocates for patients in clinical studies. Informed consent--giving patients enough information about the purpose, risks, and benefits of a trial to allow them to make an informed decision-- is important to patient safety.