Does a Test Follow Medical Imaging Appropriateness Criteria?

2014-03-07
 

Is this Medical Imaging Study Appropriate or Not?

Does Your Test Follow Medical Imaging Appropriateness Criteria?

Advancements in medical imaging systems make it possible for doctors to see things from different perspectives and with greater clarity. These medical imaging solutions can provide early and more accurate diagnoses. But is the medical imaging scan appropriate and necessary?

In the early 1990s, the AmericanCollege of Radiology (ACR) recognized the need to define national guidelines for appropriate use of medical imaging software and technologies. During testimony before the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee in 1993, K.K. Wallace, MD (former chair of ACR Board of Chancellors) stated that the ACR was ready to create guidelines for radiology to eliminate inappropriate utilization of radiologic services. An ACR Task Force on Appropriateness Criteria soon created guidelines that became known as ACR Appropriateness Criteria® (ACR AC).

Question Authority or Ask Your Doctor

So how effective are these medical imaging guidelines today? According to Dr. Paul Dorio, the majority of patients know that medical imaging utilizes ionizing radiation, which makes it possible for the radiologist and physician to see what their medical problem is. However, most patients don’t ask whether the test they are ordering is appropriate. Since too much ionizing radiation can cause cancer, medical imaging studies must be relevant and necessary in order to do maximal benefit and minimal harm, Dorio wrote.

Dorio suggests that when a doctor orders a medical imaging study, patients should ask him or her if they have reviewed the ACR Appropriateness Criteria. If the answer is no, Dorio recommends the patient consider a second opinion before agreeing to undergo the ordered study.

Medical Imaging Advances

Medical imaging systems have matured as both physician and patient awareness of radiation safety are on the increase. With futuristic names like hyperspectral medical imaging, electromagnetic acoustic imaging (high clarity ultrasound) and 3-D metamaterial, new medical imaging solutions are far more effective but carry higher doses of radiation.

For this reason, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation established Choosing Wisely which is focused on encouraging physicians, patients and other health care providers to discuss, think and talk about medical tests and procedures that may be unnecessary, and, in some instances, may cause harm. It never hurts to ask.

How is your organization incorporating appropriateness criteria?

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