The American College of Radiology (ACR) has won a Veterans Affairs contract to serve as the accrediting organization for all VA radiation oncology sites, both in hospitals and free-standing units.
The 33 VA facilities will go through the accreditation process during the next three years, with 11 sites being scrutinized each year.
Another group, the American College of Radiation Oncology (ARCO) had been awarded the VA contract in the past, but lost out in the most recent bidding," says ACR executive director, Harvey L. Neiman, M.D., FACR.
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"Generally, our program is stronger, more robust," Dr. Neiman says. (He says he doesn't know how many sites were accredited by ARCO.)
Although Dr. Neiman would not say how much the VA contract is worth, he said, "It has significant value to the VA.
"ORCO's contract was less expensive but they decided to switch to us," Dr. Neiman told DOTmed.
ACR accreditation requires that physicians providing radiation therapy to cancer patients meet stringent educational and training standards.
For example, ACR requires that each center submit information on their: equipment, staffing levels, training programs, patient census data and quality control programs.
In addition, the physician in charge of the program must write a self-assessment.
Perhaps most important, ACR accreditation will require each center to submit to an onsite survey by radiation oncologists and a medical physicist.
These experts will verify the information that has been submitted, tour the facility and provide a peer-reviewed assessment of the facilities, Dr. Neiman says.
"We're doing the initial work to ramp up for handling these facilities now. The facilities are starting to fill out their paper work," he adds.
The ACR has had a long history of providing accreditation for diagnostic imaging and radiation oncology going back as far as 1963, an ACR spokesman says.
In 1994, the ACR became the only national accrediting body for mammography accreditation approved by the FDA under the Mammography Quality Standards Act. Quality standards for mammography facilities have been credited with saving tens of thousands of lives.
In addition to mammography, the ACR, located in Reston, VA, currently has programs to accredit MRI, CT, nuclear medicine, PET and ultrasound, radiation oncology, as well as sterotactic breast biopsy and breast ultrasound.
The ACR currently accredits more than 16,000 radiation oncology and medical imaging facilities in nine separate specialties nationwide.Back to HCB News