Why shouldn't radiology techs be licensed?

Considering the amount of attention that has been placed on issues relating to medical radiation and exposure over the last few years, the fact that there are still several states that don't have any licensing standards on the books for radiologic technologists is rather perplexing

What's more, the fact that one of the nation's largest states is considering reversing course on licensing and eliminating its current requirements is even more a cause for bemusement.

In Texas, the legislature's Sunset Advisory Commission has released its 2014 Sunset Staff Report, which includes a recommendation to eliminate licensure requirements for radiologic technologists and medical physicists.

According to the ASRT, Texas currently licenses 28,375 radiologic technologists--the individuals truly on the front lines of medical imaging and radiation therapy. If Texas eliminates those licensing requirements, individuals in the state could potentially be able to administer medical radiation without completing coursework on radiation protection, radiation safety and medical imaging physics.

Certainly no one would argue how important education is when it comes to training radiologic technologists. It's absolutely essential, not only to protect the safety of patients, but also to protect themselves, as well.

The Sunset Advisory Commission's report essentially states that licensing is redundant since technologists work in healthcare facilities that are subject to a number of state and federal requirements, as well as private accreditation programs. Accordingly, public health wouldn't be greatly affected by eliminating licensing requirements, according to the report.

Most states disagree. For instance one state--North Carolina--which has been slow to embrace the idea of licensing radiologic technologists, has changed its tune and has licensing bills pending before the legislature.

One particular paragraph in the proposed legislation puts the issue in proper perspective.

"[T]he citizens of this State are entitled to the maximum protection practicable from the harmful effects of improperly performed radiologic imaging and radiation therapy procedures," the legislation states, adding that "protection and quality can be increased by requiring appropriate education and licensure of persons operating equipment used for radiologic imaging and radiation therapy procedures.

"Therefore, it is essential to establish standards of education for these technologists and to provide for appropriate examination and licensure."

The appropriate authorities in Texas should keep that language in mind when it comes time to make a final determination on whether to keep its licensing requirements on the books. - Mike (@FierceHealthIT)