When an ultrasound practice - such as a hospital's radiology or ob-gyn department - applies to the AIUM for accreditation, an assessment of every aspect of the practice's operation (including both staff and equipment) is required. For accreditation, ultrasound facilities must have:
- Well-qualified personnel. How much education, years of clinical experience, and continuing medical education has each staff member had? Have the doctors received specialty training? Is each staff member certified by an eminent body like the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS)?
- High standards for the performance of each ultrasound procedure. Do the procedures meet, or even exceed, national standards?
- Appropriate ultrasound facilities and equipment. Is there enough space for patients' comfort and privacy? Is the equipment sufficiently up-to-date to produce top-notch diagnostic images?
- Adequate record-keeping. Does the ultrasound practice keep permanent and complete records of every procedure, and are they easy to retrieve when needed?
- Quality assurance guidelines. Are standards for consistency and accuracy in place and used routinely by all staff members?
Inevitably, the thoroughness of the review required for AIUM accreditation uncovers both strengths and weaknesses in an ultrasound practice.
So the next step is to formulate specific, workable solutions to remedy any problems, and then demonstrate to the AIUM Ultrasound Practice Accreditation Council that the changes meet their expectations. Perhaps, some staff members need further education and training in new developments in ultrasound. Or, the review may reveal a need for new, dedicated ultrasound equipment.
Accreditation is not just a onetime assessment. Ultrasound practices accredited by the AIUM must go through the same exhaustive audit every 3 years, to retain their accreditation.
In short, AIUM accreditation provides a good measure of reassurance for patients. This accreditation is the hallmark of an ultrasound practice that meets nationally accepted standards of patient care, demonstrates consistent excellence, and is current with the latest ultrasound technology.
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