The Joint Commission has announced a set of new requirements for imaging equipment safety that applies to accredited hospitals, critical access hospitals, and ambulatory care organizations. The updated standards expand on existing Joint Commission requirements or address gaps created by the evolution of technology, incorporating recommendations from imaging experts and professional organizations.

Phase 1 begins July 1, 2014 and will address computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine (NM), positron emission tomography (PET), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) services. Phase 2 commences in 2015 and will focus on fluoroscopy, minimum qualifications for clinicians who perform imaging exams, and cone beam CT used in dental offices and oral-maxillary surgery practices. Areas of revision include:

  • Minimum competency for radiology technologists, including registration and certification by July 1, 2015
  • Annual performance evaluations of imaging equipment by a medical physicist
  • Documentation of CT radiation dose in the patient’s clinical record
  • Meeting the needs of the pediatric population through imaging protocols and considering patient size or body habitus when establishing imaging protocols
  • Management of safety risks in the MRI environment
  • Collection of data on incidents where pre-identified radiation dose limits have been exceeded

“With these updates, The Joint Commission’s goal is to ensure that our imaging standards remain up-to-date and sufficiently address quality and safety,” said Margaret VanAmringe, MHS, executive vice president of public policy and government relations at The Joint Commission. “These rigorous imaging standards address overall patient safety, oversight of imaging services, staff competency, radiation safety procedures, equipment maintenance and quality control. This system evaluation seeks to ensure that organizations providing imaging services have the requisite infrastructure and safety culture to minimize radiation exposure to patients and staff and provide safe and effective care.”

The full list of standards can be viewed on the Joint Commission’s website. They will also be published in the 2014 Ambulatory Care, Critical Access Hospital, and Hospital Comprehensive Accreditation Manuals in March 2014.