New License Needed To Keep Pace With Technology, Expedite Medical Scans
TRENTON – In an effort to address rapid changes in radiologic technology, Senator Fred H. Madden has sponsored legislation that would create a new licensing category to permit nuclear medicine technologists to operate hybrid fusion imaging technology – an effective method of detecting abnormalities in tissue and internal organs, and diagnosing many cancers. The bill cleared the full Senate today.
“Radiologic technology plays an integral role in diagnosing serious diseases, and it is essential that medical personnel are trained to utilize the most up-to-date technology,” said Senator Madden, D-Gloucester and Camden. “By establishing a comprehensive license for hybrid fusion imaging, this bill will streamline the licensing process for nuclear medicine technologists and ensure that patients receive complete and thorough examinations.”
The bill, S-566, would create a new license that would allow radiologic technologists to operate hybrid fusion imaging technology – defined as equipment capable of performing two or more medical imaging examinations simultaneously, merging the data to form a composite scan – upon demonstrating competency or completing additional training, as determined by the DEP and/or Radiologic Technology Board of Examiners. Under the bill, the board would also be directed to establish the title of the license, the scope of practice of the license, and the letters that may be used after the licensee’s name to denote the title and qualification.
Radiologic technologists are the medical personnel who perform diagnostic imaging examinations and administer radiation therapy treatments. Currently, the State has separate licensing requirements for those that operate ionizing radiology, which is high frequency radiation like that found in x-rays and CT scans, and non-ionizing radiology, which is low-frequency radiation used to generate image contrast, such as an MRI machine.
In recent years, hybrid fusion imaging technology has become an increasingly popular way to perform diagnostic imaging examinations, due to its ability to fuse CT and Nuclear Medicine Technology (NMT) scans. However, current law restricts the practice of radiologic technologists so that an individual needs two separate degrees to perform these multiple imaging scans. If a dual-degree technologist is not available, then two technologists must be present to perform the scans.
“Hybrid fusion imaging is the technology of the future, and it is imperative that licensing procedures keep pace with medical advancements,” said Madden. “This legislation will take bureaucracy out of the process and help expedite medical screenings, so that patients can obtain timely test results and begin receiving treatment if necessary.”
The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 40-0. It now heads to the Assembly for final legislative approval.