Enzi and Harkin Introduce Bill to Improve Patient Safety, Provide Health Care Savings

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Ranking Member and Chairman on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, this week introduced legislation to ensure the quality of medical care, improve patient safety and provide health care cost savings.  The bill, calledthe Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility and Excellence (CARE) in Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy Act of 2012 (S.3338) , is cosponsored by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

“This important legislation will help to ensure that accurate information is presented for diagnosis when radiation therapy treatments are delivered. Poor quality images can often lead to misdiagnosis, additional testing, delays in treatment and greater anxiety for the patient,” said Senator Enzi.  “Numerous injuries and deaths have been attributed to over-exposure to radiation during medical procedures. Ensuring that radiologic technologists and medical imaging personnel are qualified and certified will minimize harmful exposure to patients. This bill will also offer real savings because repeated imaging and radiologic examinations cost the health care system millions of dollars annually in needless medical bills. By reducing the number of examinations that must be repeated because of improper positioning or poor technique, we can help reduce health care costs for hard working Americans.” 

“Ensuring that the personnel who perform medical imaging or radiation therapy procedures have the proper training is critical to patient safety and avoiding the misdiagnoses and treatment delays that can result from poor quality images,” said Senator Harkin.  “The CARE Act is commonsense legislation that will protect patients, ensure quality care, and reduce the millions of dollars in medical costs each year caused by needless repeat examinations.”

The CARE Act would ensure that a patient who undergoes a medical imaging or radiation therapy procedure has those services performed by a professional with appropriate education and certification or licensure.   The bill would also require practitioners to meet education and certification standards determined by certification organizations designated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and obtain state licensure where required.   

The CARE Act applies to providers performing medical imaging, planning and delivering radiation therapy, and measuring the clinical effectiveness of medical radiation-emitting equipment, but specifically exempts providers with advanced training including physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.

The legislation is supported by the Alliance for Quality Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy, the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, the American Society for Radiation Oncology, the Society of Nuclear Medicine, and the American Society of Radiologic Technologists.

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