ACR Revises Accreditation Criteria

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The American College of Radiology (ACR) earlier this week announced changes to accreditation criteria. The changes come as a result of a challenge posed to the society’s committees by Board of Chancellors Chairman John Patti, MD, to update the criteria to make accreditation more scalable in light of the Medicare mandate that most practices become accredited in nearly all modalities. The ACR accreditation committees continually assess the criteria used in their programs in the context of evolving practice patterns, Patti says.

In changes effected, board certified radiologists are no longer required to meet any specific numbers of cases depending on when the American Board of Radiology (ABR) began examining for a specific modality. For example, any radiologist boarded in 1995 or later would not be required to meet any specific numbers for general MRI.

However, due to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, this change does not include mammography. Stereotactic breast biopsy is also excluded due to a joint agreement between the ACR and the American College of Surgeons regarding the qualifications.

There will still be alternative pathways with numbers for board certified radiologists who achieved their certification before the ABR began examining in a given modality, for non-board certified radiologists and for non-radiologists.

Additionally, a new alternative allows radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians who currently meet the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) requirements of the ABR in lieu of specific numbers of CME. In the non-breast imaging accreditation programs, meeting the requirements of ABR MOC may also be used in lieu of specific numbers of cases. This alternative also applies to nuclear medicine physicians who currently meet the MOC requirements of the American Board of Nuclear Medicine.

Under the new criteria, radiologists who fulfill the requirements of the ACR Practice Guideline for Continuing Medical Education are also considered to meet the CME requirements of the accreditation programs. The prior pathways with numbers of cases and hours of CME remain available.

Moreover, occasional readers are not required to meet the interpreting physician initial qualifications or continuing experience requirements. However, the reads of all occasional readers combined should not exceed 5% of the total volume of reads per practice and per modality, and there must be an active written review process in place at each institution for occasional readers based on its credentialing requirements

Meanwhile, the Subcommittee on Nuclear Medicine Physics has eliminated the need for sites to submit SPECT phantoms utilizing T1201, Ga67, or In111; sites performing SPECT imaging will still be required to submit Tc99m SPECT phantom images. Sites utilizing Tl201, Ga67, or In111,will still be required to submit both planar uniformity and planar spatial resolution images with these isotopes.

Finally, a new, more flexible requirement pertaining to phantom images mandates that the clinical images may predate the application by up to six months. The time for the clinical image acquisition relative to that of the phantom image has also been eliminated

Individual modality requirements may be found at:

http://www.acr.org/accreditation/Breast-MRI/breast_mri_reqs.aspx; http://www.acr.org/accreditation/breast/breast_ultrasound_reqs.aspx;

http://www.acr.org/accreditation/computed/ct_reqs.aspxhttp://www.acr.org/accreditation/mri/mri_reqs.aspx, http://www.acr.org/accreditation/nuclear/nuc_med_reqs.aspx

http://www.acr.org/accreditation/ultrasound/ultrasound_reqs.aspx