September 15, 2010 — The Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM) announced its support for the U.S. Senate in its introduction of the Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility and Excellence in Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy Act of 2010 (CARE Act), S. 3737. The proposed legislation, which was introduced in August by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), aims to ensure that minimum education and credentialing standards for nuclear medicine technologists are set at the state level.
The bill’s co-sponsors include Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Al Franken (D-Minn) and Thomas Harkin (D-Iowa). The CARE Act would require those who perform medical imaging and radiation therapy procedures to meet minimum federal education and credentialing standards in order to participate in the Medicare program. Thus, medical imaging procedures, as well as radiation therapy treatments for patients covered under these programs, would need to be performed by personnel meeting these federal standards in order to be eligible for reimbursement.
"A great opportunity has been presented for the molecular imaging and nuclear medicine community," said Kathy Hunt, MS, CNMT, 2010–11 SNM president. "We must continue our work with the Senate to pass this legislation to ensure patient safety when undergoing diagnostic and radiation therapy procedures."
Currently, only 26 states have established standards for nuclear medicine technologists, only 32 states for radiation therapists and only 38 states license or partially regulate radiologic technologists. Under current law, basic training standards are voluntary in some states, allowing individuals to perform radiologic procedures without any formal imaging education. Poor quality images can lead to misdiagnosis, additional testing, delays in treatment and anxiety in patients, costing the U.S. healthcare system millions of dollars each year.
"Requiring nuclear medicine technologists to meet educational and credentialing standards to perform procedures in their state will ensure the safety and accuracy of these medical procedures and, in turn, the quality and value of care for our patients," added Hunt. "This legislation is another important step toward assuring safety and quality care for patients across the country."
More than 16 million nuclear medicine scans are performed each year in the United States. By supporting accreditation and providing education, SNM has helped to lead the way in ensuring quality care. The legislation is supported by the Alliance for Quality Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy, a coalition of 20 radiologic science organizations representing 350,000 imaging technologists, radiation therapists, medical assistants and other stakeholders in the imaging community.
For more information: www.snm.org