CMS Names National Accrediting Bodies for Medical Imaging Providers

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , January 26, 2010

The American College of Radiology, The Joint Commission, and the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission have been designated as accrediting organizations for medical imaging facilities, CMS said in a Federal Registry notification published today.

The designation gives the three organizations the authority to accredit providers of advanced medical imaging mandated by the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, which requires that providers of CT, MRI, PET, and nuclear medicine exams, who bill Medicare for the technical component under the fee schedule, be accredited by Jan. 1, 2012.

"While advanced diagnostic imaging procedures can be useful in identifying health problems that might otherwise require surgery, the rapid growth in their use raises important questions of quality and safety," said CMS' Barry Straube, MD, CMO, and director of the Office of Standards and Quality in a media release. "The three organizations that will be accrediting suppliers have the expertise and authority to set a standard of excellence industry-wide."

The three accrediting organizations had to demonstrate that they were experienced in advanced diagnostic imaging, and that their accreditation requirements met or exceeded the standards set out in MIPPA, including requirements for:

  • Qualifications of non-physicians performing the imaging

  • Qualifications and responsibilities or medical directors and supervising physicians

  • Procedures to ensure the safety of the individuals furnishing the imaging procedure and of the patients

  • Procedures to ensure the reliability, clarity, and accuracy of the technical quality of the diagnostic images

  • Procedures to assist the patient to obtain his/her imaging records on request

  • Procedures to notify CMS of changes to the imaging modalities subsequent to the accrediting organization's decision

The accrediting organizations were also required to develop a plan for reducing the burden and cost of accreditation to small and rural suppliers, and to provide CMS with detailed information about their survey processes.

MIPPA specifically excludes from the accreditation requirements: X-rays, ultrasound, and fluoroscopy procedures. The law also excludes diagnostic and screening mammography, which are regulated by the FDA under the Mammography Quality Standards Act.
CMS plans a provider education outreach program to ensure that suppliers understand the requirements and are able to comply with them prior to the Jan. 1, 2012, deadline.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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