This article has touched on the American College of Radiology (ACR) requirements for ultrasound but I would like to dive deeper into the alphabet soup and look at the different organizations out there that encompass ultrasound accreditation.
Beginning with ACR, changes were made in 2014 to their requirements which include the frequency of required evaluations, inspections of the system’s display, geometric accuracy as well as the main interpretation display if located on-site. For more information, please visit the ARC Ultrasound site at: http://www.acr.org/Quality-Safety/Accreditation/Ultrasound.
Another common organization is the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM). Their maintenance and quality control standards are listed on their website www.aium.org and include:
1. Systems must be maintained in good operating condition and undergo calibration at least once per year.
2. Systems must be maintained annually, according to the manufacturer’s specifications or more frequently if problems arise.
3. There must be routine inspection and testing for electrical safety of all equipment.
These standards are somewhat dated as most contemporary systems do not have calibration features accessible to service personnel but the requirement to maintain the system annually according to the OEM specifications is similar to the new Centers of Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) requirements for Preventative Maintenance.
Looking at the cardiac and vascular side of ultrasound imaging accreditation organizations, we have the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) which now encompasses the Intersocietal Commission for Accreditation of Vascular Labs (ICAEL) and Intersocietal Commission for Accreditation for Echo Labs (ICAVL) accredited organizations. The quality control and maintenance standards listed on their website http://www.intersocietal.org/intersocietal.htm require:
1. Recording of the method and frequency of equipment maintenance.
2. Establishment of a policy for routine safety inspections.
3. Establishing a cleaning schedule for the system and transducers.
4. The accuracy of the equipment should be tested annually using a phantom. This requirement stands out as it is the only time a tissue mimicking phantom is required (We use the line of ATS phantoms at Conquest Imaging due to quality, performance and durability).
5. Beginning December 31, 2015, IAC will require electrical safety testing of transesophageal transducers (TEE) between each use similar to The Joint Commission (TJC) requirements.
The variety of organizations, changing standards and the fact that within a hospital you could potentially have several accreditation organizations overseeing a single facility or even department makes compliance challenging.
For more information or assistance, please email Matt Tomory at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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