Giving Patients Medical Standards They Deserve
By Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Peach Bottom)
If one goes to the barber shop, one can see the barber’s license hanging on the wall. At the salon, cosmetologist licenses are prominently displayed – signs that the stylists have been trained, tested and licensed to perform professional services for the public. The same is true with accountants, realtors and other professionals.

In hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices, the licenses of physicians and nurses are on display. It would make sense that staff members who operate equipment including X-ray, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), CT (Computerized Tomographic) scanning, and sonograph machines that can result in negative consequences, including death, would also have licenses to display. However, that is not the case.

Pennsylvania is home to more than 17,000 medical imaging technologists, but unlike most states, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not have a comprehensive licensure law for these medical professionals who perform diagnostic and therapeutic imaging procedures. These technologists have direct contact with patients, and the images they provide are vital to the accurate diagnosis and treatment of disease and injury. Ensuring that they are properly credentialed is a matter of public safety.

Across the country, there have been examples of unqualified staff members using medical imaging equipment on patients. Unqualified or improperly trained personnel can lead to misdiagnosis, lost time in getting the correct diagnosis, overexposure to ionizing radiation or electromagnetic waves, faulty treatments and possibly death.

For this reason, I have introduced House Bill 1545, a bill to establish education, licensure and scope of practice standards for professionals performing a variety of procedures, including sonography, fluoroscopy, limited X-ray machine operations, magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear medicine, radiation therapy and radiography. My legislation would ensure the proper certification and licensing standards for medical imaging professionals who assist physicians in arriving at the accurate diagnosis and treatment for disease or injury. It would create the necessary safeguards to assure quality of imaging and maximum patient safety.

Prior to being elected to the state House of Representatives, I worked as an X-ray technologist, and I understand the importance of making sure all Pennsylvanians have access to high-quality medical care. Other medical imaging professionals agree; my legislation has the support of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists and its Pennsylvania and Philadelphia affiliates. The bill is also supported by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, the Pennsylvania Radiological Society, the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging and the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography. All of these organizations recognize the dangers associated with ionizing radiation exposure and agree that the best way to protect patients is by having a comprehensive licensure law in Pennsylvania.

It is time for our Commonwealth to demand a high standard of medical imaging care for all Pennsylvanians.

Representative Bryan Cutler(R-Lancaster) is the Pennsylvania House Majority Whip.