Joint Commission Publishes Updated Imaging Standards

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The non-profit Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., accreditation organization, the Joint Commission, has published revised standards for diagnostic imaging in ambulatory care, hospital and critical access hospital settings.

The revised standards beef up existing language on CT, PET, nuclear medicine (NM) and MR safety for staff and patients, as well as codify best practices for imaging system maintenance. This includes requiring accredited organizations to have a qualified (as defined by the Joint Commission) medical physicist conduct a performance evaluation on CT, PET, NM and MR systems at least annually. In addition, to checking metrics like image uniformity and slice thickness and position accuracy on CT systems, the medical physicist must make sure that for actual radiation dose given during a CT procedure does not deviate from the dose displayed on the system by more than 20 percent.

Advancements in imaging system technology and education also are reflected. This includes new standards for radiation dose monitoring and recording when systems that can track radiation dose are used. In addition, it makes it a standard to record adverse events, like MR patient burns and incidents when the radiation dose exceeded what was recommended. It also asks organizations to collect and analyze CT patient radiation doses and, when possible, compare that data with external benchmarks.

The ACR’s Image Gently and Image Wisely initiatives are specifically mentioned in the standards as necessary for ongoing training of technologists. In addition, American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) registration and certification is now specifically required for CT techs.

The requirements can be reviewed at these links:

Ambulatory Care Diagnostic Imaging Prepublication Requirements
Hospital and Critical Access Hospital Diagnostic Imaging Prepublication Requirements