March 18, 2016

Caution Needed to Combat Scope of Practice Expansion

The American College of Radiology (ACR) is urging its state chapters and members to remain vigilant about state legislative proposals that would expand the scope of practice for ancillary health care professionals who perform radiology procedures.

Although ancillary personnel fill essential roles within a coordinated care environment, such proposals often fail to provide adequate guidance to define the education, training and clinical experience needed to justify additional privileges.

The ACR has seen a recent trend toward more scope of practice state legislation that would modify licensing requirements or legal definitions for ancillary medical personnel who perform selected medical imaging procedures. These proposals are backed by non-physicians who seek to order, interpret, and supervise radiology procedures without the necessary skills and experience that radiologists acquire during many years of medical school, residency, and fellowship training. The ACR believes patient safety is best served when radiology services performed by ancillary personnel are done so only under the supervision of a radiologist or qualified physician.

It is important for patient safety and quality of care to remain the top concern, as state legislators grapple with the challenge of controlling health care costs and expanding access. A small, seemingly insignificant change in an existing definition of health care provider or licensed professional can have profound impacts on the way radiology services are provided.

The ACR supports its chapters in their efforts to oppose the expansion of non-physician scope of practice, especially when ancillary personnel seek to expand their scope of practice without considering the education and training necessary to perform procedures involving ionizing radiation.

The ACR and its chapters urge policymakers to keep in place clearly delineated roles and responsibilities for ancillary personnel within existing statutes and regulations. If your chapter is currently facing a scope of practice issue, please share your experience with ACR government relations staff at ebrandt@acr.org.