Representative Rick Lazio Offers Bill to Ensure Competency Of Personnel Performing Medical Imaging, Radiation Therapy Procedures

Sep 27, 2000, 01:00 ET from American Society of Radiologic Technologists

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Congressman Rick Lazio, R-N.Y., on
 Sept. 25 introduced a legislative proposal in the U.S. House of
 Representatives designed to ensure that the nation's medical imaging and
 radiation therapy procedures are performed by qualified personnel.
     "Millions of Americans undergo x-ray examinations, CT scans, MRI scans and
 other diagnostic imaging tests every year," said Rep. Lazio.  "This bill will
 help ensure that these examinations meet a high standard of quality."
     Rep. Lazio's bill, titled the Consumer Assurance of Radiologic Excellence
 (CARE) Act, calls on the federal government to establish educational and
 credentialing standards for personnel who plan and deliver radiation therapy
 and perform all types of diagnostic imaging procedures except medical
 ultrasound.  States would be required to meet the federal minimum standards or
 risk losing Medicaid reimbursement for radiologic procedures.
     The CARE Act is designed to amend the Consumer-Patient Radiation Health
 and Safety Act of 1981.  The 1981 law established minimum standards for the
 education and credentialing of radiologic technologists.  Because compliance
 with the 1981 Act is voluntary, only 35 states have enacted licensure laws for
 radiographers, only 28 states license radiation therapists, and only 21 states
 license nuclear medicine technologists.  In states where no licensure exists,
 individuals are permitted to perform radiologic procedures without any formal
 education and sometimes after only a few weeks of on-the-job training.
     "The lack of uniform standards nationwide for operators of medical imaging
 and radiation therapy equipment poses a hazard to the patient and jeopardizes
 quality health care," said Rep. Lazio.  "Accurate diagnosis and effective
 treatment can be provided only when personnel are properly educated in
 anatomy, technique, equipment operation and radiation safety."
     According to Rep. Lazio, passage of the CARE Act will improve the overall
 quality of American health care.  "It will help ensure that quality diagnostic
 information is presented for interpretation and that accurate radiation
 therapy treatments are delivered, leading to timely diagnosis, treatment and
 cure," he said.
     "Seven out of 10 Americans undergo some type of medical imaging exam or
 radiation therapy treatment annually," added Rep. Lazio.  "This legislation
 will mean improved care for patients -- fewer retakes, higher quality images
 and less exposure to radiation."
     The CARE Act is backed by the Alliance for Quality Medical Imaging and
 Radiation Therapy, a coalition of 12 radiologic science organizations that
 represents more than 200,000 health care professionals.  It also has support
 from a number of patient groups and health care organizations, including the
 American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association's Council on
 Cardiovascular Radiology, the Cancer Research Foundation of America and the
 American College of Radiology.
     "Most Americans assume that the person taking their x-ray, performing
 their CT scan or delivering their radiation therapy is a qualified
 professional," said Michael DelVecchio, president of the American Society of
 Radiologic Technologists, a membership organization that represents more than
 86,000 medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals nationwide.  "The
 fact is, poorly trained individuals examine and treat thousands of patients in
 this country every day.  The CARE Act will ensure that patients will no longer
 have to wonder about the qualifications of people performing radiologic
     DuVonne Campbell, ASRT Director of Government Relations, said the bill's
 Sept. 25 introduction "represents thousands of hours of effort by people who
 are concerned about improving the quality of patient care."  However, she
 noted that much work still lies ahead for supporters of the CARE Act.
 "Because the bill was introduced so late in the Congressional session, we do
 not expect substantive action to be taken on it this year," she explained.
 "The bill will have to be reintroduced when Congress reconvenes in January.
 In preparation for its reintroduction, we are working to gain support for a
 companion bill in the Senate."
     Rep. Lazio was joined in introducing the bill into the House of
 Representatives  by a bipartisan group of 17 House cosponsors:  Rep. John J.
 Duncan Jr., R-Tenn.; Rep. Lane Evans, D-Ill.; Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Mich.;
 Rep. John Larson, D-Conn.; Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa; Rep. William Lipinski,
 D-Ill.; Rep. James Maloney, D-Conn.; Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y.; Rep. Howard
 McKeon, R-Calif.; Rep. Alan B. Mollohan, D-W.V.; Rep. Connie Morella, R-Md.;
 Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Pa.; Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn.; Rep. John Olver,
 D-Mass.; Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.V.; Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill.; and Rep. Debbie
 Stabenow, D-Mich.

SOURCE American Society of Radiologic Technologists