The Joint Commission has issued new standards around protocols, documentation and education that are designed to reduce unnecessary medical imaging and improve quality and safety.
The Joint Commission standards for diagnostic imaging are designed to help prevent duplicate and unnecessary medical imaging of patients, and reduce potentially harmful exposure to radiation when patients need CT scans, MRI or a combination of these and other diagnostic tests. The new protocols raise the bar for quality and safety at ambulatory imaging sites, critical access hospitals and accredited hospitals. The changes also impact the uncertainties around dosage radiation for patients.
Many have questioned whether the changes are enough.
The Joint Commission’s imaging standards were initially intended for release last year, but they were postponed due to lack of detail and clarity. Compliance to new protocols becomes difficult when a patient is seen by multiple healthcare providers – especially in different geographic regions – and when the patient’s journey spans different facilities, specialists and time zones as they strive to get well.
Healthcare provider education on the imaging equipment and diagnostic materials will be the main element to improve imaging standards and ultimate improve healthcare provision.