News | October 08, 2009

ACR Accreditation for Medical Physicists, MR Scientists to Change

October 8, 2009 - Effective Jan. 1, 2010, the American College of Radiology (ACR) CT, MRI, Nuclear Medicine and PET Accreditation Program requirements for medical physicists and MR will change.

New requirements for initial qualifications, continuing education, and continuing experience will be more relevant and more uniform across the accreditation programs and should not be onerous on imaging facilities seeking accreditation. These modifications are necessary to promote the ACR goals for quality and safety as the ACR prepares the accreditation programs for accreditation approval by CMS under the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA).

The current requirements for medical physicist/MR scientist initial qualifications, continuing experience, and continuing education vary significantly across accreditation programs. They recommend but do not require board certification for medical physicists and provide no other educational or experience requirements when the individual is not board certified. Under the present requirements, a medical physicist can be qualified without having earned a degree of any kind.

Revising the current initial qualifications to include board certification or appropriate degree and experience requirements will strengthen the accreditation programs and bring them into line with the existing ACR Practice Guidelines and Technical Standards for each modality. Revising the continuing experience criteria so they are uniform across the programs will ensure that essential personnel stay current and connected with the modalities for which they provide service. The modifications to continuing education criteria will actually provide more flexibility to medical physicists/MR scientists as they choose curricula to fulfill their own needs as well as accreditation and MIPPA requirements. See the table below for details of the new requirements.

Language added to address the use of medical physicist assistants clarifies the levels of supervision and accessibility qualified physicists must provide to guarantee expert guidance and oversight. In each program, the qualified medical physicist/MR scientist is responsible for the conduct of all surveys of the imaging equipment. The medical physicist/MR scientist may be assisted by properly trained individuals in obtaining data. These individuals must be approved by the medical physicist/MR scientist in the techniques of performing tests, the function and limitations of the imaging equipment and test instruments, the reasons for the tests, and the importance of the test results. In CT and MRI the medical physicist/MR scientist must be present during the surveys. In Nuclear Medicine and PET, the medical physicist must be present or in general supervision of properly trained assistants (and accessible by phone) during the surveys. In all imaging modalities, the medical physicist/MR scientist must review, interpret, and approve all data and provide a report of the conclusions with his/her signature.

For more information: www.acr.org/accreditation.aspx.

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