Joint Commission issues proposed revisions for diagnostic imaging standards

The U.S. Joint Commission is proposing revisions to diagnostic imaging requirements for ambulatory care, critical hospital and hospital accreditation programs.

According to the Joint Commission, research suggests that these requirements need to be revised in order to address quality and safety-related issues. The changes will focus on CT, MRI, nuclear medicine and PET.

A number of standards revisions are being proposed. For example, facilities that provide CT services must have a medical physicist conduct a performance evaluation of all CT imaging equipment on at least an annual basis. That physicist would need to evaluate metrics such as slice thickness and position accuracy, and verity that the radiation dose doesn't vary more than 20 percent from the actual amount of radiation delivered.

In addition, the facility providing the CT services would have to ensure that the radiologic technologist performing the exam is registered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), certified by the ARRT in radiography and/or CT, and trained or experienced in operating CT equipment. Diagnostic medical physicists who support CT services would need to be board certified in diagnostic radiological physics or radiological physics by the American Board of Radiology, the American Board of Medical Physics, or an "equivalent" organization.

If not board certified, the physicist would need to have a graduate degree in medical physics, radiologic physics, physics, or another relevant physical science or engineering discipline; formal coursework in the biological sciences with at least one course in biology or radiation biology and one course in anatomy, physiology, or a similar topic related to the practice of medical physics; or three years of documented experience in a clinical CT environment under the supervision of a board-certified medical physicist.

Another revision would require facilities providing MRI services to ensure that individuals not being screened to be restricted by staff to an area adjacent to the entrance of the scanner room. That area would need to be supervised by MRI-trained staff, and a sign would need to be posted at the entrance of the scanner room warning that the scanner is always in operation.

The comment period on the proposed new and revised requirements lasts until Sept. 25.

To learn more:
- see the Ambulatory Care Proposed Revisions for Diagnostic Imaging
- read the Hospital Proposed Revisions for Diagnostic Imaging
- see the Critical Access Hospital Proposed Revisions for Diagnostic Imaging