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The Coalition for Ethical Imaging Announces Support for Diagnostic Imaging Bills Introduced in Texas Legislature
Date:3/11/2009

AUSTIN, Texas, March 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The Coalition for Ethical Imaging (CEI), a grassroots coalition with the goal of improving diagnostic imaging practices in Texas, has announced its support for Senate Bill 1461 by Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) and its companion bill in the House, House Bill 2599 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston). These bills greatly enhance diagnostic imaging patient care and safety in the state of Texas by requiring registration of diagnostic imaging equipment and accreditation of diagnostic imaging facilities. They also address quality issues associated with diagnostic imaging providers and determine the extent to which physician ownership of advanced diagnostic imaging equipment influences the decision to prescribe expensive tests.

In addition, the coalition supports House Bill 2279 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson, which improves billing practices related to diagnostic imaging, and Senate Bill 821 by Sen. Florence Shapiro (R-Plano), which addresses minimum standards for radiologist assistants.

The coalition is comprised of the Texas Association of Business, Texas Association of Health Plans, Texas Radiological Society and other groups of Texans who work in the field of radiology. Altogether, the coalition represents nearly 23,000 Texans and more than 120,000 Texas businesses.

"Texas is behind the curve nationally in providing basic safeguards that ensure that advanced diagnostic services are utilized appropriately," Dr. Richard Strax, president of the Texas Radiological Society, said. "These bills will make a tremendous difference in quality of patient care."

Legislation supported by the Coalition for Ethical Imaging addresses four areas of concern that significantly impact patient safety and rising healthcare costs:

  • Over-utilization of diagnostic imaging
  • Inadequate accreditation of scanning facilities and registration of equipment
  • Insufficient disclosure to patients when a physician has a financial interest in the imaging equipment or facility to which they refer
  • Nontransparent billing practices

The group is focusing its efforts on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET).

The bills would achieve the following:

  • Improve patient safety and ensure quality, consistency and accuracy by developing an accreditation and registration system for the state that would require that radiology facilities and equipment meet basic quality requirements and use nationally accepted criteria to ensure patient safety.
  • Create a study by the Department of State Health Services that will compare the rates at which diagnostic imaging services are prescribed by physicians who have a financial interest in imaging equipment compared to rates for physicians of the same specialty who have no financial interest in such equipment. This study would be conducted using information from electronic forms already generated by imaging centers and physician's offices.
  • Require physicians to disclose to patients that they have a financial interest in the imaging centers/equipment to which they are referring. Similar laws are already in place in more than 23 states.
  • Require transparency in diagnostic imaging billing practices to ensure that patients know the break-down of the costs, if services were "marked up" and if a trained radiologist performed the service.

The proposed legislation would NOT:

  • Restrict physician ownership of diagnostic imaging machines or equipment.
  • Impact X-rays, mammograms, ultrasounds or other common tests frequently conducted at physicians' offices.
  • Create a costly or administratively burdensome and onerous task to physicians or generate cumbersome new reporting requirements.

For more information, please visit www.ethicalimaging.org.

    Contact: Meg Meo, 512-494-2867 or
    mmeo@echristianpr.com


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SOURCE The Coalition for Ethical Imaging
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