Continuing a pattern of media attention, the CARE (Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility and Excellence in Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy) bill, slated for reintroduction in Congress this spring, yesterday was featured prominently in a New York Times article that highlighted the patient-safety proposal as a way to improve the quality of medical imaging exams and radiation therapy procedures.
The latest in a 13-month New York Times series on radiation overdose errors, the article explains that the bill would establish educational and certification standards for personnel who perform exams and procedures that use medical radiation. It focuses on a situation at a Brooklyn, N.Y. hospital wherein premature infants were subjected to full-body x-rays, known as “babygrams,” without any shielding. In a subsequent letter to the editor, ASRT President James Temme, M.P.A., R.T. (R) (QM), FASRT, asserts that babygrams are not routine practice and that certified radiologic technologists use proper patient positioning, dose selection, and shielding to limit the patients’ total radiation exposure. He also notes that ASRT urges Congress to enact the CARE bill in 2011.
In a subsequent statement issued by ASRT, Temme deems “ensuring that personnel who perform these exams are qualified” to do so “the single most important step” that can be taken toward improving the safety of patients undergoing medical imaging and radiation therapy. “The Times article made it clear that the accuracy and quality of any radiologic procedure depends on the skill of the person performing it,” he says. “No amount of legislation or regulation will ever be able to completely eliminate medical errors. However, we believe the CARE bill can minimize risk by establishing standards. Radiology procedures use some of the most complex and technologically advanced tools in the medical field, yet many states allow untrained personnel to operate this equipment. Only competent, qualified personnel should be allowed to perform radiology exams.”
The ASRT has been working with other radiology organizations since 2000 to enact the bill. “We hope the increased media attention and public support will persuade lawmakers to act quickly in passing it,” states Christine Lung, ASRT vice president of government relations and public affairs. “We appreciate the work of Sens. Mike Enzi and Tom Harkin and Rep. John Barrow to make the CARE bill a priority. This bill will improve the quality of medical imaging and radiation therapy procedures in America.”