AAOS Bulletin - February, 2006

ICAMRL introduces MR studies accreditation program

By Robert C. Fine, JD

Now, more than ever, providers of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) need to demonstrate a commitment to quality—to insurance carriers, referring physicians and their patients. Through the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Magnetic Resonance Laboratories (ICAMRL), the multiple specialties that provide MRI services, including orthopaedic surgeons, have access to an accreditation process for magnetic resonance.

Originally founded in 2000, the ICAMRL program provides a method for practices with MRIs to evaluate and demonstrate quality in imaging, interpretation, reporting and—most important—the overall quality of patient care they provide. The ICAMRL program has recently experienced a resurgence because of widespread interest from orthopaedic surgeons, cardiologists, neurologists, radiologists, magnetic resonance technologists, equipment manufacturers and insurance carriers.

Of particular interest to orthopaedists is that the ICAMRL program includes accreditation for both full-body and extremity-only magnets.

“It is crucial to the future of this imaging modality that all specialties have access to a fair and equitable accreditation program that enables them to receive peer review of their work and to document to insurers that they are providing quality magnetic resonance studies consistent with established clinical guidelines,” said ICAMRL’s president, Edward T. Martin, MS, MD, FACC.

A multispecialty organization

The ICAMRL accreditation program was developed through an intersocietal, multispecialty approach—independent of a membership organization. In addition to the AAOS, sponsoring organizations include the American Academy of Neurology, the American College of Cardiology, the American Society of Neuroimaging and the Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance, as well as members-at-large representing radiology.

Each organization has a representative on the ICAMRL Board of Directors. The AAOS is currently represented by A. Louis Mariorenzi, MD, and Robert W. Westergan, MD.

A Standards document for each accreditation area defines the key components of quality magnetic resonance imaging. Indications, techniques, components of examination performance, procedure volumes and quality assurance—both technical and interpretive—are covered.

In addition, the Magnetic Resonance Imaging Operations - Organization standard details administrative and operational functions such as personnel (medical and technical), supervision, support services, physical facilities, examination interpretation, report and records, safety and patient confidentiality, and quality assurance—including a requirement for a quality assurance committee to oversee system and laboratory performance. The laboratory staff completes the corresponding accreditation application, which requires information on all aspects of the MR facility operation as well as the submission of actual case studies for review.

Why accreditation?

Along with potential reimbursement benefits, accreditation is an ideal mechanism for a laboratory to voluntarily demonstrate its commitment to quality patient care. The ICAMRL encourages accredited laboratories to promote their achievement to their peers, referring physicians and patients through hospital newsletters, facility brochures and other internally generated promotional mechanisms.

To begin the ICAMRL accreditation process, download an order form from the ICAMRL Web site, or call toll-free (800) 838-2110. The initial application fee is $250; updates are sent at no additional charge. ICAMRL will be an exhibitor at the AAOS 2006 Annual Meeting in Chicago. Stop by the booth to learn more about the accreditation process.

ICAMRL is a member of the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission, which includes accreditation commissions for vascular, echocardiograph and nuclear medicine laboratories.

Robert C. Fine, JD, is director of the AAOS department of socioeconomic and state society affairs. He can be reached at fine@aaos.org

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