ACR Supports Joint Commision’s Radiation Risks Alert

August 29, 2011

The American College of Radiology on August 27 voiced support for The Joint Commission’s Sentinel Event Alert addressing the radiation risks of diagnostic imaging, but took issue with a few elements of the report.

The American College of Radiology on August 27 voiced support for The Joint Commission’s Sentinel Event Alert addressing the radiation risks of diagnostic imaging.

“In general, the ACR applauds TJC’s alert for its comprehensiveness and strong recommendations regarding selection of the right procedure and the right dose, creating effective processes, ensuring safe technology and promoting a safety culture,” ACR officials said in a statement.

The accrediting agency issued its alert on August 24, prefacing 21 recommendations with an introduction acknowledging a near-doubling of the U.S. population’s radiation exposure in the past two decades.

“Diagnostic imaging can occur in hospitals, imaging centers, physician and dental offices, and any physician can order tests involving exposure to radiation at any frequency, with no knowledge of when the patient was last irradiated or how much radiation the patient received,” the alert said.

The report’s recommendations fell into five categories including right test, right dose, effective processes, safe technology, and safety culture.

The ACR did take issue with minor elements of the report. One criticism centered on The Joint Commission’s assertion that the CMS’ January 2012 requirement for accreditation of CT, MRI, and PET was made because of radiation exposure risks. The ACR said it was to ensure quality and notes that MRIs emit no ionizing radiation. A second concern had to do with the timing of the National Radiology Data Registry’s launch (in 2008, not 2011 as stated in the alert); and a third questioned the alert’s call for “awareness of the potential dangers from diagnostic radiation among organizational leadership, hospital staff and patients” when, the ACR argues, “significant scientific disagreement on the magnitude of those dangers remain.”

Industry group The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) also came out in support of The Joint Commission’s efforts.

“As a long-time supporter of criteria to determine the appropriateness of imaging procedures, certification of imaging equipment operators and accreditation of imaging facilities, MITA welcomes the Commission’s recommendations and encourages the use of physician-derived best practice guidelines to ensure the safe and appropriate use of medical imaging technologies,” Dave Fisher, executive director of MITA, said in a statement. “We will continue to work with stakeholders to advance these policies and ensure that they are properly implemented, so all patients have access to the right scan at the right time.”