Senators introduce RadCARE bill for medical imaging personnel standards

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Sen. Michael Enzi, (R-Wyo.), and Sen. Ted Kennedy, (D-Mass.), introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate on Feb. 17 that would improve the quality of the nation’s medical imaging examinations by establishing standards for the personnel who perform them.

The Consumer Assurance of Radiologic Excellence bill, or RadCARE bill, directs the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish minimum educational and credentialing standards for personnel who plan and deliver radiation therapy and perform all types of diagnostic imaging procedures.

Under current law, basic training standards are voluntary in some states, which allows individuals to perform radiologic procedures without any formal education. “It is important that we establish standards for personnel who perform radiologic procedures because physicians depend upon medical imaging examinations to diagnose disease and identify and treat injuries of all kinds,” Sen. Enzi said. “Missed, inaccurate, or delayed diagnoses can lead to unnecessary or dangerous therapies.”

“Physicians and patients should be able to trust that the technical providers such as the radiologic technologists, ultrasonography technologists and medical radiation technologists who actually perform these tests are well qualified to do their jobs and have the appropriate credentials help to provide this assurance,” Enzi added.

Sen. Enzi noted that 41 states voluntarily license, regulate or register radiographers, 30 states license radiation therapists and 25 states license nuclear medicine technologists. Laws vary from state to state, and some laws are so weak that they are ineffective in ensuring the competency of personnel who perform medical imaging and radiation therapy procedures.

The RadCARE bill (S. 2322) will not affect states that have a suitable licensing system or those that have mandated higher standards than those required under the bill, Sen. Enzi said. “If a state has no meaningful regulations or licensing system, however, then the RadCARE bill will apply,” he said.

The RadCARE bill would be enforced by restricting Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement to facilities that employ personnel who meet the minimal federal standards.

The American Society of Radiologic Technologists and its 120,000 members worked with Sen. Enzi and Sen. Kennedy to introduce the RadCARE bill. “On behalf of the patients we serve, the ASRT thanks Senators Enzi and Kennedy for sponsoring this important piece of patient-care legislation,” said ASRT President Cathy Parsons, BS, RT (R) (M), FASRT. “The RadCARE bill will help ensure that patients have access to qualified, competent healthcare professionals.”