Congress demands certification for radiologic technologists

October 14, 2009

Technologists performing imaging and radiation therapy procedures will need to meet new certification standards under a bill pending in Congress.

Technologists performing imaging and radiation therapy procedures will need to meet new certification standards under a bill pending in Congress.

The Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility and Excellence in Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy Act (CARE) would require all medical imaging professionals to be state-certified under standards set by the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Most nuclear medicine technologists are certified, but some states have no licensure requirements and can hire anyone to perform the procedures, according to Mark Wallenmeyer, the 2008-2009 president of SNM's Technologists Section.

"These states will have to establish a state licensure [process] to review the qualifications of each technologist to ensure he or she has had the appropriate educational training and board certification," he said.

In 2008, Congress passed the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) mandating accreditation for facilities performing CT, MRI, PET, and nuclear medicine services, but it covers only 30% of all imaging procedures.

The CARE bill rounds out MIPPA and covers the other 70% of medical imaging procedures, including x-ray, fluoroscopy, and ultrasound, which are not currently included, said Christine J. Lung, the American Society of Radiologic Technologists VP of government relations and public policy.

One group that will make recommendations to HHS on what the certification standards should be is the Alliance for Quality Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy. The group of allied health professional organizations has been meeting for many years to discuss what standards/criteria should apply, Wallenmeyer said.

The bill, HR 3562, would take effect Jan. 1, 2013. Even though the number of people this will affect is small, it is critical to ensuring the quality of medical imaging and safety of patients, Wallenmeyer said.

CARE was referred to the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees.