Report from SCCT: Cardiac CT accreditation gets a break

July 17, 2007

The American College of Cardiology-backed Task Force on Clinical Competence will extend a certification deadline by two years, enabling more physicians to qualify to perform and interpret cardiac CT.

The American College of Cardiology-backed Task Force on Clinical Competence will extend a certification deadline by two years, enabling more physicians to qualify to perform and interpret cardiac CT.

The new date has been set for July 1, 2010, according to Dr. Matthew Budoff, task force chair. The deadline was postponed to give physicians more time for training, especially relating to the mandatory supervised interpretation of cardiac CT examinations.

Physicians must complete a minimum cumulative training of four weeks and more than 50 supervised interpretations for Level 1 cardiac CT certification, according to an ACC/American Heart Association statement. To get Level 2 noncontrast cardiac CT, they must complete a minimum of four weeks, more than 50 supervised exams, and more than 50 supervised interpretations.

Certification for Level 2 cardiac CT with contrast media requires the same number of supervised exams and reads as the noncontrast guideline plus eight weeks of cumulative time spent learning about cardiac CT.

A Level 2 cardiac CT certification board will probably be established in 2008, according to Budoff, director of the cardiac CT program at the University of California, Los Angeles, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. This board will be meant to oversee Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography members and will not replace the existing certification boards for other physician societies that perform cardiac imaging, including the American College of Radiology.

The American Society of Echocardiography, American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, Society of Atherosclerosis Imaging, and Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions all signed off on the task force recommendations. The SCCT has endorsed the document, Budoff said.

The task force comprises the ACC Foundation, the AHA, and the American College of Physicians. In the statement published by the ACC journal in 2005, it had set July 1, 2008, as the deadline to qualify for Level 2 or 3 training requirements to obtain certification (J Am Coll Cardiol 2005;46:383-402).

The task force was created in 1998 to develop evidence-based guidelines to achieve and maintain the skills for competent performance of specific cardiovascular services, procedures, or technologies. These guidelines must comply with the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations' requirements.

Budoff noted at the SCCT meeting that the extended deadline will help physicians avoid educational programs that promise mastery over cardiac CT in one weekend. Comparing them to exercise programs that guarantee fitness from one-minute workouts, he advised the audience that there are no shortcuts to learning how to competently diagnose disease with the ultrafast technology.

"The one-minute workout only guarantees you won't have to sweat. Be careful you spend enough time at the workstation to achieve the level you need," he said.

For more information from the Diagnostic Imaging archives:

Cardiac CTA calls for close collaboration from day one

Societies collaborate on cardiac CT and MR appropriateness criteria

Reasons to reconsider CCTA overread pacts

Privileging limits access to imaging, cuts insurers' costs