April 7, 2005
The Society of Nuclear Medicine Technologist Section is pleased to announce that the Consumer Assurance of Radiologic Excellence (CARE) bill was reintroduced in the US. House of Representatives on Thursday, March 17, 2005 by Representative Charles "Chip" Pickering, Jr., (R) from Mississippi.
The CARE bill is designed to establish federal education and credentialing standards for personnel who deliver radiation therapy treatments and perform medical imaging procedures (except diagnostic medical sonography). The CARE Bill will help reduce the risk of medical errors associated with misdiagnosis or the misadministration of radiation. This will in turn ensure that quality information is presented for diagnosis, reduce health costs by lowering the number of repeated medical imaging procedures due to improper positioning or poor technique, as well as improve the safety of medical imaging and radiation therapy procedures.
Currently, only 24 states license or regulate nuclear medicine technologists, 29 states license or regulate radiation therapists, and 37 states license or regulate radiographers. This means that in those states without minimum education or credentialing standards through legislation or regulation, medical imaging and radiation therapy personnel are allowed to perform medical imaging and therapeutic procedures without obtaining specific education or credentials. In these states, it is common to have non-certified or non-registered personnel performing these procedures.
This disparity is alarming, especially since in 1981, President Reagan signed into law the Consumer - Patient Radiation Health and Safety Act. This act required that minimum standards for state certification and licensure of persons who administer ionizing and non-ionizing radiation be developed. Compliance with this act, however, was made voluntary. The CARE Bill would enforce the Consumer - Patient Radiation Health and Safety Act of 1981.
The SNMTS is a co-founder with the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) of the Alliance for Quality Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy, a coalition of 17 organizations that represents more than 250,000 health care professionals. The Alliance was formed in 1998, bringing together healthcare organizations dedicated to the provision of safe, high quality radiologic care. One way to support the goals of the Alliance was to pursue federal minimum education standards. This effort has been ongoing and now has begun in the fourth session of Congress.
Why is this initiative so important now? Advances in technology have brought forth teleradiography and multi-modality or fusion imaging. While these advances are revolutionizing medical imaging and therapy, they are also creating a host of practice issues. These practice issues occur most commonly in states with inadequate standards or inadequate regulations in place. The CARE Bill will address numerous practice issues medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals are now facing, as well as ensure high quality care and decrease costs.
HR 1426 has twenty original co-sponsors (including Congressman Pickering) and has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
What are the Next Steps? Please call your Representative and ask his/her office to support HR 1426. You can locate your respective Representative's office phone number on the House of Representatives website at www.house.gov, or on the SNM website at capwiz.com/snm/dbq/officials/.
For more information, contact Lyn Mehlberg, BS, CNMT, FSNMT, Chair of the SNMTS Advocacy Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.