If your imaging center or or free-standing facility owns a CT Scanner— or is thinking about buying one— and you don’t yet know what XR-29 is, you should read this blog soon, if not today. 

The new radiation standard for CT set by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) (link is external)and its Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) divisionis officially called "XR-29 Standard Attributes on Computed Tomography Equipment Related to Dose Optimization and Management.” More commonly known as just XR-29(link is external)and/or MITA(link is external) SmartDose, it was created in response to a 2009 FDA report that approximately 200 patients in an 18-month period received radiation doses far in excess of protocol.

Beginning in 2016, CT scans performed on machines that are not compliant with XR-29 will receive a 5 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursement. That reduction increases to 15 percent if CT machines still aren’t compliant in 2017.

The law’s impact and reach is going to be somewhat limited since it only covers hospital outpatient departments and free-standing imaging centers. Also, paradoxically, hospital inpatient settings — which is where the patients in the FDA’s 2009 report received the excessive doses — will not be impacted by the Medicare law. Hospitals can voluntarily meet compliance or seek imaging accreditation through organizations such as ACR or IAC, and are under no legal obligation to comply with XR-29.

The Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals, has said that it has no plans to require compliance with XR-29.

It is estimated that approximately one-third of outpatient CT Scanners will need to be replaced to avoid penalties. Or upgraded. Upgrade being the word of the day, as there are both manufacturer’s XR-29 compliant solutions, as well as third-party (READ, cheaper) solutions available now.

Generally, CT Scanners older than 10 years probably should be replaced or upgraded sometime before the end of 2016, if not before.

Ultimately, XR-29 is about patient safety, a concept everyone in the healthcare industry can get behind.

If you have any questions about XR-29 Compliance, and/or whether your scanner meets the current criteria— or can be upgraded— please feel free to give us a call at 800-722-3646 or 239-454-9555 or click here!