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Calendar of Events

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Calendar of Events

  1. 1. Technologist Section Society of Nuclear Medicine 1850 Samuel Morse Drive Reston, VA 20190-5316 NON-PROFIT ORG. U.S. POSTAGE PAID PERMIT NO. 200 YORK, PA SNM MEETINGS Visit the SNM Home Page at http://www.snm.org for more information. 48th Annual Meeting June 23-27, 2001 Toronto Convention Center Toronto, Ontario, Canada MEETINGS SPONSORED BY THE SOCIETY OF NUCLEAR MEDICINE APRIL 2001 20-22: Mideastern Chapter 32nd Annual Spring Meeting. Location: Marriott Doubletree Hotel, Rockville, MD. Contact: Richard Gramm; phone/fax 410-465-8323. OCTOBER 2001 10-14: Western Regional Meeting. Location: Westin Bayshore Hotel, Vancouver, BC. Contacts: Sue Peak or Joyce Matin; WR SNM, PO Box 2693, Kirkland, WA 98083; 425-893-8410; e-mail wrsociety@aol.com. 26-28: Northeast Regional Meeting—Greater New York Chapter and New England Chapter Meeting. Location: Stamford Marriott Hotel, Stamford, CT. Greater New York Chapter Contact: Mitchell H. Stromer, 360 Cedar Ln., East Meadow, NY 11554; 718-405-8468; fax 718-824-1369; e-mail mitch360@aol.com. New England Chapter Contact: Eleanor L. Cotter, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit St., Boston, MA 02114; 617-726- 8350; fax 617-726-6165; e-mail cotter.eleanor@mgh.harvard.edu. NOVEMBER 2001 9-11: Southeastern Chapter Meeting. Location: Hyatt Regency, Savannah, GA. Contact: Vincent J. Sodd, PhD, 5987 Turpin Hills Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244; 513-231-6955; fax 513-231-6955; e-mail soddvj@blues.fd1.uc.edu. MEETINGS SPONSORED BY OTHER ORGANIZATIONS April 2001 20-22: 9th Annual Cardiac SPECT Symposium and Workshop. Location: New York, NY. Contact: Office of Continuing Medical Education, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, Travers 517, 1111 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10025; 212-523-2138; fax 212-523-2074; email SPECT2001@att.net. AUGUST 2001 25-29: European Association of Nuclear Medicine Congress. Location: Naples, Italy. Contact: Alberto Cuocolo, Univ. degli Studi di Napoli, Federico II, Via Pansini 5, Napoli 80131, Italy; +39-081-7462226; fax +39-081-5457081; e-mail cuocolo@unina.it. SEPTEMBER 2001 3-6: Third Meeting of the Brazilian Society of Nuclear Biosciences (SBBN). Location: Gramado, RS-Brazil. Contact: Eloy Julius Garcia, Departamento de Biofiscica–UFRGS, Av. Bento Goncalves, 9500/Predio 43422, CEP: 91501-970 Porto Alegre/RS; 55-51-316 7026; fax 55-51-316 7003; e-mail cultcel@vortex.ufrgs.br. Calendar of Events 49th Annual Meeting June 15-19, 2002 Los Angeles Convention Center Los Angeles, CA
  2. 2. Report from the President-Elect by Mickey Clarke, CNMT In May of 2000, the NMTCB received a letter on behalf of the Society of Nuclear Medicine, Technologist Section (SNM-TS) and the Nuclear Cardiology Committee requesting that the Board of Directors of the NMTCB consider offering a spe- cialty exam in Nuclear Cardiology. After the Board met in September of 2000 and made the decision to offer the exam, an ad-hoc Nuclear Cardiology Specialty Exam Committee was formed and began to work on the exam immediately. The philoso- phy behind offering this exam is that technologists who have expertise in a specialized field need to be offered some sort of recognition. While the entry- level exam already tests the knowledge of the basics of nucle- ar cardiology, the specialty exam will assess the knowledge of an experienced nuclear cardiology technologist. For example, the specialty exam will assess the technologist’s knowledge in areas such as artifact recognition, stress testing, ECG placement, and recognition of arrhythmias and pharmacologic intervention. NMTCB Offers a Nuclear Cardiology Specialty Exam by Daniel Leahey, CNMT Did you know that there is an “Association” for association executives? I recently attended a confer- ence for elected officers and their association executives presented by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) with Bill Bertera, Virginia Pappas and Alan Maurer, MD. The meeting was a great success from my perspec- tive. It afforded me an opportunity to spend quality time with our executive direc- tors and to form a working partnership with Dr. Maurer, who will lead the Society beginning in June 2001. We all learned a few things during those two days, but there is one concept in particular that I would like to com- municate to you. ASAE maintains that there are three keys to sustaining success in an organization, and they are pivotal to ensuring a reputation for value and relevance among members and stakeholders. The first is A REPUTATION FOR VALUE (a portfolio of good stuff). I believe that the Technologist Section con- stantly strives to maintain this. We thoughtfully develop a strategic plan and examine all of our endeavors in light of the plan to ensure that we consistently offer our members value and satisfaction. The second is AN ENJOYABLE CULTURE based on trust and high communication. Once again, I would give the Section higher than average marks. Those of you who have been involved in the Section for any length of time will attest to the friendships and bonds that form around the National Council table despite the occasional (and sometimes loud) differences of opinion. The third is A NIMBLE INFRASTRUCTURE that allows associations to quickly seize opportunities to create value. This is the piece we need to work on. Our member Expanding Your PET Project Page 2 What’s New In Coding and Reimbursement Page 3 12th Annual International PET Conference Page 3 Update on the CARE Act Page 4 Report: ASNC Conference Page 4 Mr. Pro-Mo Your Vote Makes a Difference VOICE Box Page 5 Nuclear Medicine Millionaire Reimbursement for Nuclear Medicine Procedures Seminar Page 6 Government Relations Page 7 SocietyofNuclearMedicineTechnologistSection Volume 7, No. 1 Winter 2001 continued on page 7 1 The Newsletter of the Society of Nuclear Medicine Technologist Section continued on page 2
  3. 3. Uptake is published 6 times a year by the Society of Nuclear Medicine Technologist Section. All editorial communications should be sent to: Kathy Thomas, CNMT, 143 N. Calera Ave., Glendora, CA 91741; phone 310-423-3267; fax 310-423-3037; e-mail: kathy.s.thomas@cshs.org. Editorial Board Danny Basso, CNMT Valerie Cronin, CNMT Frances Neagley, CNMT David Perry, CNMT Kathy Thomas, CNMT Susan Weiss, CNMT Managing Editor Kira Mayrides 2 The field of PET imaging continues to explode with new products, expanding applications and fresh markets. Are you in the PET business? If not, you may soon be; if you are, you may be expanding your service to accommodate the increasing volume of refer- rals. Are you moving from gamma camera coincidence to dedicated PET? What are some of the key considerations when starting PET imaging or expanding your service with an eye on safety, quality and new technologies? Safety First PET requires departments to enhance radi- ation safety. Handling PET tracers and patients in proximity to standard nuclear medicine imaging and counting systems will effect exposure and calibrations by raising background levels. Several departments have found out the hard way that a scintillation camera cannot be serviced and calibrated with PET patients in an adjacent room, or even down the hall. PET imaging rooms may require shielding to protect staff and maintain an ALARA practice. PET room shielding is not as simple as shielding for x-ray or CT due to the high energy of PET emissions. Patient waiting areas or FDG uptake rooms for patients will need careful consideration and planning. Injecting a PET patient and then taking him or her back to a public waiting room may create an undue radiation risk for other patients and family members. An FDG uptake room with a comfortable recliner will provide optimal safety and allow the patient to remain relaxed during the uptake period. A hot lab needs additional shielding for the dosing station, syringe shields, and decay stor- age. Technologists must be thoroughly trained in enhanced radiation safety to ensure a safe and contamination-free area. FDG injection techniques need modification above those of standard radiopharmaceuticals. Getting Paid PET requires payer pre-authorization, financial waivers, billing and payment tracking procedures. The financial viability in today’s health care market is a must for all services. The lowest rate of PET reim- bursement will be among those institutions that do not place additional resources and emphasis on marketing, pre-authorizing and billing tracking. HCFA eliminated payment for dual detector gamma camera PET due to a difference in sensitivity of lesion detection, but extended its covered oncology applications to diagnosis, staging and re-staging. PET Instruments The last few years have seen an explosion of gamma camera coincidence systems for PET. Departments could perform a few PET scans each week or month with a camera that could also perform routine nuclear medicine procedures. However, using gamma camera coincidence imaging, Landoni, et al detected only 53 of 63 thorax lesions and 36 or 45 abdomen lesions as compared to a dedicated BGO (bismuth ger- manate) PET (J Nucl Med 1999; 40:1617- 1622). Shreve, et al (Radiology 1998; 207:431-437) experienced only a 55% sensi- tivity level for lesion detection with dual- head PET. Thus, the HCFA Decision Memorandum of Dec 15, 2000 stated that there was a clear difference in lesion detectability data with dedicated PET versus gamma camera coincidence imaging, and limited reimbursement to dedicated PET sys- tems. The current dedicated PET equipment choices are a BGO ring system and a six- head NaI PET system with 1-inch thick detectors. BGO ring systems cost approxi- mately $1.4 to 2.0 million; the NaI dedicat- ed PET, about $1 million. At this time, there are almost no comparative studies between these instruments for lesion detectability or clinical outcomes. Many more studies are needed to determine which instrument pro- vides the necessary sensitivity and accuracy for detecting disease. Projected volume and diversity of applications, along with capital expenditure, should be the determining fac- tors in selecting the class of equipment that will suit your particular needs. New detector technologies for dedicated PET ring systems, which will also be covered by HCFA reim- bursements, are forthcoming this year. Both BGO and NaI dedicated PET sys- tems offer significant image quality improvement over gamma camera dual- head instruments. Dedicated NaI PET scanners require the use of smaller amounts or tracers, since the detectors are open and count rate saturation can easily be exceed- ed. This limitation may benefit the use of less FDG with the potential for cheaper per dose expense for FDG. PET reconstructed images must have attenuation correction (AC) for the full Expanding Your PET Project by Paul Christian, CNMT technologists (and non-members as well) look to us with ever-increasing expectations. We are expected to be the frontrunners in the development of services and products that enhance their professional lives. How can we more effectively do this? We can become more adaptive and receptive to new ways of providing information. We can see that our volunteers have the tools to create these products quickly and efficient- ly. We can LISTEN to our members and stakeholders to ensure that we are continually on the right track to providing them with value. The culture that we need to devel- op is one that is knowledge-based. Sharing and processing information quickly will keep us in the leadership role that we currently hold. President-Elect’s Report continued from page 1 continued on page 3
  4. 4. path length of the gamma photon pair. An adequate AC technique is required to accu- rately view the relative uptake of abnormal- ities and for accurate quantitation by SUV. Without AC, subtle lesions can be missed. Image fusion of PET with MRI or CT provides an enhanced perspective for the physician to view a color PET image superimposed onto a high-resolution anatomic image. In two years of perform- ing coincidence imaging, we performed image fusion on about 50% of patients. The DICOM image transfer from PACS must be smooth to accommodate this anatomic correlation. Recently, PET instruments have been complimented with CT in the same gantry for perfect image alignment for fusion. I think this represents the future of PET imaging; the grail is to lay a quantitative metabolic image upon 3D high-resolution anatomy. This technology places the patient in the exact position for both images. PET fused with CT is also providing great value in radiation therapy treatment planning at some institutions. All PET imaging equipment will require more care, QC and calibration than stan- dard scintillation cameras. Compulsive QC and calibration will be necessary to ensure high performance of the equipment, and staff time and appropriate training will be the only path to quality results. PET imaging is not just another nuclear medicine procedure that you add to the list of department services. It will require care- fully selected additional equipment, train- ing and adequate time to provide high- quality procedures. 3 Charge Master Changes for 2001 Updates You can relax… All the work you did for APCs — the addition of the pass-through C-codes for radiopharmaceuticals — was all that needed to be done for Nuclear Medicine for 2001. The level I 2001 CPT codes released in October required only one change to the CPT section for nuclear medicine; in essence, it was a clarification of the definition of infection scanning under code 78807. This code definition now reads for localization of “inflammation”, instead of the localization of “abscess”. You should check your own language to make sure you have something similar and that you are using this code for all inflammatory process- es being scanned, not just for abscess local- ization. Although this change likely repre- sents the CPT editorial board catching up to practice, you should review your charge mas- ter and practices to be sure. The following section contains information on radiophar- maceutical coding updates. APCs update If you haven’t already visited the SNM web site, www.snm.org, for updates on the pass-through codes and changes to the per- dose, per-vial language, you should. The web site provides a November 28th release updating the APC radiopharmaceutical list for 2001; check this list against what you currently have and make the appropriate changes to your charge master. As a caveat, you will also see a December 6th comment from the SNM APC task force referring to errors and discrepancies between the list shown in Addendum A and Addendum B of the Federal Registry release of November 28th, 2000. The only difference between the lists should be the way in which they are organized — Addendum A by APC number and Addendum B by HCPC code. It is critical that each of you bills for your radiopharmaceuticals separately using the pass-through codes. Unless the entire commu- nity bills appropriately, we will face some harsh realities in two or three years. At that time, HCFA is planning to remove the pass- throughs and roll the radiopharmaceuticals into the APCs groups using the data collected from the pass-throughs to set the final price. Reimbursement for Nuclear Medicine Procedures Seminar The ever-popular coding and reimburse- ment seminars organized by the Society are hitting the road again. Check the schedule below for dates and locations: January 26, 2001 Long Beach, CA Hilton Long Beach February 12, 2001 Tampa, FL Marriott Waterside May 4, 2001 Columbus, OH Hyatt Regency Columbus August 17, 2001 Portland, OR Hilton Garden Inn For more information, please visit the Society’s web site at: http://www.snm.org/ policy/new_policy_gov_3.html. Coding and Reimbursement Committee: What’s New in Coding and Reimbursement by Frances Keech, CNMT Report: 12th Annual International PET Conference by Debbie Erb, BS, CNMT The 12th annual international PET conference, organized by the ICP (Institute for Clinical PET), was held in Washington, D.C. on October 15-18, 2000. The goal of the conference was to advance participants’ knowledge of positron imaging, as well as to focus on the clinical use of PET and its future quantitative techniques and applica- tions. As requested, the conference fea- tured an expanded Technologist Workshop program, including six hours of instruction designed to provide an overview of a newly developed technol- ogist track. The workshops focused on clinical protocols, daily operations, radiation safety, PET QA, PET physics, SUV calculation, setting up a PET cen- ter, and maximizing reimbursement for PET scans. Most noteworthy was the increase in the number of attendees since last year’s conference. This year, more than 700 people attended, with more than 200 registering within the week prior to the conference. Of the 450 attendees in 1999, 39 were technologists; in 2000, the number of technologists nearly doubled to 75 (based on the use of the CNMT suffix). These increases clearly indicate that the need for education related to this technology is rapidly growing.
  5. 5. Secure online ordering is now available through the SNM web site at www.snm.org. When ordering on line, you have the ability to search the new SNM product catalog and view your buying history. You can also contact the service center via phone at 1-800-513-6853; fax at 703-708-9105; or email atservicecenter@snm.org. The SNM Service Center is your one-stop shop for all of your SNM needs! Announcing the New SNM Service Center 4 Report: 5th Annual American Society of Nuclear Cardiology Conference by Dan Basso, CNMT The Alliance for Quality Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy was very pleased when Representative Rick Lazio (R-NY) introduced the Consumer Assurance of Radiologic Excellence (CARE Act) on September 25, 2000. The bill, HR- 5274, had bipartisan support with 17 cosponsors. It is designed to ensure that technologists who perform medical imaging using ionizing radiation and radiation thera- py, including those who use ionizing radia- tion on a limited basis, have sufficient edu- cation and experience. The bill does not cover technologists who perform ultrasound or echocardiography. HR-5274 seeks to redress deficiencies in the Consumer-Patient Radiation Health and Safety Act of 1981 by mandating that states put in place minimal standards for the education and certification of technologists practicing in the field; that is, enact state licensure. The guiding principle behind this legislation is that accurate diagnosis and effective treatment can be provided only when personnel are properly educated. Currently, there are 15 states that do not license radiographers, 22 that do not license radiation therapists, and 29 that do not reg- ulate nuclear medicine technologists. In states where no licensure exists, individuals can be permitted to perform exams with lit- tle or no training. What are the next steps? Well, we know that Representative Lazio, who gave up his seat in order to run for the senate, lost the race to Hillary Clinton. Therefore, he will not be returning to Capitol Hill. The Alliance will encourage one of the other cosponsors to reintroduce the bill to the 107th Congress, and the bill will most like- ly be referred to the Commerce Committee in the House. Cosponsors that serve on that committee will be targeted. The bill’s sup- porters will also be working to identify a sponsor in the Senate for a companion bill. In addition, members of the Alliance will be asked to participate in a letter-writing campaign to encourage all Congressmen to support the bill. In that the Alliance repre- sents more than 200,000 medical imaging professionals, grass root participation should do a lot to raise awareness of the importance of this bill. Should you want detailed information about the bill, such as its exact wording, list of cosponsors, or a list of alliance members, please visit the SNM web site at www.snm.org, click on “Policy and Practice”, “Government Relations”, and then “National Licensure”. On March 1 and 2, 2001, the SNM-Tech Section and the Alliance are sponsoring visits to Capitol Hill. The program will begin at 11:00 AM on Thursday and will include a brief overview of the legislative process, review of the bill, and tips for meeting with your Representative and Senators. It will also include handout material explaining why this bill is impor- tant, and other facts concerning HR-5274. After lunch on Thursday and on Friday morning, we will go to Capitol Hill for office visits. I strongly encourage those of you who live close to the DC area to par- ticipate; the visits are informative and get results. I personally visited my representa- tive, Howard McKeon (R-Calif.), and spoke on the merits of the CARE Act. His staff asked pointed questions and were very receptive, and I was more than a little pleased to learn that he was one of the first members of the House to cosponsor this legislation. Not only do our votes count, but contact with our elected officials brings results! If you are interested or need more information, please contact Amanda Sullivan at Asulliva@snm.org at the Central Office. Once this bill is passed into law, those states that do not have licensure will have to develop and enforce standards. The SNMTS has developed practice standards that can guide this process. These can be found on our web site as well. Update on the CARE Act by Lynne T. Roy, CNMT The American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC) held its 5th annual symposium and scientific session at the Hilton Chicago and Towers in Chicago, Illinois from September 21 through September 24. The educational program was designed to meet the needs of all participants by covering a range of topics, from the basics of nuclear cardiolo- gy to current advancements and research. Three different educational tracks were offered: the Advanced track, the Core Curriculum track, and the Technical track. The Advanced track was highlighted by talks on attenuation correction, non-perfusion imaging and angiogenesis. The Core Curriculum track included optimizing protocols (stress testing, imaging protocols and gated SPECT) and “Read with the Experts” sessions. The Technical track addressed issues such as stress testing, image acqui- sition and processing, artifact detection and correction, image display, and databasing. All tracks were well attended by the 1037 registered participants, 182 of which were technologists. The Technologist Committee of ASNC also met in Chicago to discuss some of the needs of technologists work- ing in nuclear cardiology. This highly productive meeting primarily focused on the continuing development of CMEs to include the cosponsoring of the educational session of the midwinter SNM meeting with the SNM-TS, and the development of a technologist road show. The Technologist Committee also approved a motion to support and work with the NMTCB and SNM in the development of a specialty exam for nuclear cardiology technology. The 6th annual ASNC meeting is planned for September 13-16, 2001 and will be held in Boston, Massachusetts. New features will include commercial exhibits displaying the latest in nuclear cardiology technology, and industry announcements of new hardware and software technology. For more informa- tion, visit the Society’s web site at www.asnc.org.
  6. 6. by Marcia Ferg, SNM Manager 48th Annual Meeting — Toronto, Canada We’re off to Canada this year for our Annual Meeting! The program is set and the technolo- gists can look forward to plenty of CE opportunities. The Technologist Section program starts on Saturday, June 23 with several excellent Categoricals—including a cardiology “Read With the Experts” session on filtering and SPECT artifact identification—and ends on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 26. There will be sessions on Medicare com- pliance and reimbursement, and a new E-Nuclear Medicine program. The legislative sessions will discuss the Part 35 updates, and there is a strong oncology track featuring lung, prostrate, breast and colorectal imaging. This meeting is a must for both staff and technologists whose job description includes department manager. We also review and, when appropriate, approve the physician program for VOICE credit. That means you have three more CE hours from which to choose on Wednesday morning—quite a selection! This year, the maximum number of continuing education hours (CEH) available to technologists is 29.0. Although many technologists attend the meeting thinking that they will receive all 29 CEH, it is important to understand that 29 hours repre- sents the maximum available credit for this meeting. The itinerary is similar to last year’s. The Categoricals will be held on Saturday and the Annual Meeting Continuing Education courses start after the Plenary Session on Sunday, June 24. The following is a list of the credit hours available for each session: Saturday, June 23 – the longest Categorical is 5.75 CEH. Sunday, June 24 – the Plenary lecture and three 1.5-hour courses (5.25 CEH). Monday, June 25 – five 1.5-hour courses (7.5 CEH). Tuesday, June 26 & 27 – five 1.5-hour courses (7.5 CEH). Wednesday, June 28 – two 1.5-hour courses (3.0 CEH). The amount of credit each individual technologist earns at this meeting depends on how many days each is able to be there and what courses are attended. With the new schedule, technologists that attend the entire meeting and stay until the end will be able to earn about 29.0 CEH. Please check our web site (see below) for any program changes. Information Sources for SNM Annual Meeting For a detailed program preview, visit SNM’s web site (http://www.snm.org) or connect to the fax-on-demand ser- vice at 888-398-7662 (703-336-5573 international). The fax- on-demand service supplies information on program times and schedules. Marcia Ferg, CE Manager, SNM Education Department Phone: 703-708-9000 X1210; e-mail: mferg@snm.org Ann Marie Alessi, SNMTS CE Committee Chair Phone: 516-255-2536 VOICE Box 5 MR. PRO-MO The Nuclear Medicine Marketing Marvel Offer to give a nuclear medicine lecture at local/regional ASRT meetings. —Jesse R. Johnson Your Vote CAN Make a Difference by Cynthia Wharton, CNMT Chair, Nominating Committee Too often, members do not take the time to participate in the election process for SNM-TS leadership because they feel that they do not know the candidates well enough or that their votes will not make a difference. However, I think the recent Presidential election proved that every vote really does matter—a fact which is true whether you are voting for the President of the United States or for the tech- nologists that will represent you for the next leadership year. Within the next three to four weeks, you will receive your ballot to elect the SNM-TS officers for the 2001-2002 leadership year. Voting is an easy process that requires only three simple steps: 1. Review the information provided for each technologist that has volunteered to represent you for the new leadership year; 2. Mark your ballot (no hole-punching required!); 3. Mail your ballot to the Central Office by the designated deadline. So watch for your ballot and take that very important moment to cast your vote. The Nominating Committee promises no recounts and no legal delays—only the fair and timely reporting of the candidates that you select to represent you and the Technologist Section in the new leadership year. On behalf of the Nominating Committee, I would like to thank you for supporting your pro- fessional organization by actively participating in the election process for the upcoming leader- ship year. Let your voice be heard.
  7. 7. 6 Reimbursement for Nuclear Medicine Procedures Seminar Stay Tuned… January 26, 2001 • Long Beach, CA • Hilton Long Beach February 12, 2001 • Tampa, FL • Marriott Waterside May 4, 2001 • Columbus, OH • Hyatt Regency Columbus August 17, 2001 • Portland, OR • Hilton Garden Inn Get everything you need to understand the major procedural aspects of nuclear medicine services, including proper code selection, claim submission and documentation—in just one day. The Society of Nuclear Medicine designed this course for nuclear medicine physicians and tech- nologists, medical office managers, and billing and medical records personnel. The course offers 6.0 category 1 credits towards AMA/PRA, and 6.0 continuing education hours by VOICE and the American Academy of Professional Coders. For details about accreditation, a list of program par- ticipants, or to register, please visit us on the web at http://www.snm.org/policy/roadshow.html or contact Amanda Sullivan at (703) 708-9000 x1255. Nuclear Medicine Millionaire Game Show — VOICE Approved SNM–TS 2001
  8. 8. HCFA Announces PET Coverage Decision The Healthcare Finance Administra-tion (HCFA) announced at close of business on Friday, December 15, 2000, that it would approve coverage for Positron Emission Tomography in six types of cancer; that is the good news. What was not made clear in the press release is that the coverage is dependent on several things, including the type of cam- era used. For example, gamma cameras that are modified to perform coincidence imaging would not be approved for reimbursement for these new indications. In the past, HCFA has approved the limited use of PET, but it has never qualified the type of camera that must be used. This decision broadens the allowable coverage of PET, but the camera clause has the potential to prevent countless facilities from being reimbursed. Focusing on the positive, lung cancer, esophageal cancer, colorectal cancer, lym- phoma, melanoma, and head and neck cancer were approved for diagnosis staging and restaging. Myocardial viability was approved, following an inconclusive SPECT study, and additional uses were sent to the MCAC Diagnostic Imaging Panel for review. PET was also deemed appropriate for presurgical evaluation of refractory seizures. For diagnosis of staging and restaging, two conditions must be met. First, the stage of the cancer must be unknown after a standard diagnostic workup has been com- pleted; and second, the clinical manage- ment of the patient should differ depend- ing on the stage of the cancer. HCFA did indicate that if PET could replace one or more conventional imaging studies, it would be deemed reasonable. In each case, the doctor will be required to document in the patient’s chart, prior to performing the PET study, what information the test will provide. HCFA claims that this informa- tion will help them review the appropriate- ness of the procedure. While we are pleased that PET has been approved for the above situations, it was disappointing that coverage of breast can- cer and Alzheimer’s disease has been returned to the MCAC Diagnostic Imaging Panel for further review and that melanoma was not covered for evaluating regional nodes. It will be summer before HCFA finally establishes the reimbursement rates and codes for these new indications. For further information on any SNM gov- ernment relations programs or on health care policy, please contact Amanda Sullivan at: SNM Public Affairs Department, Society of Nuclear Medicine, 1850 Samuel Morse Dr., Reston, VA 20190; 703-708-9773; e-mail asulliva@snm.org. Government Relations and Health Care Policy Update by Amanda Sullivan, SNM Project Manager of Health Care Policy, and William Uffelman, SNM Director of Public Affairs and General Counsel A sampling of the specialty exam’s content follows: • Instrumentation/Procedures/ Processing (50%) ° Myocardial Perfusion Imaging (acquisition, processing, QC/artifacts) ° Radionuclide Ventriculography, First Pass, and Cardiac Shunts (acquisition, processing, QC/artifacts) ° Infarct Avid Imaging (acquisition, processing, QC/artifacts) • Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology (10%) • Radiopharmaceuticals and Interventional Drugs (10%) • Patient Care/ECG/CPR/Patient Preparation (15%) • Non-pharmacologic Stress Testing (15%) The first exam will be offered in June of 2001 in conjunction with the annual SNM meeting in Toronto. More details will be forth- coming — check the NMTCB web site (www.nmtcb.org) for up-to-date information. The June 2001 exam administration will be limited to 100 examinees, and the application deadline is May 1, 2001. The exam fee is $150.00.Eligibility requirements include docu- mented evidence of an active NMTCB, or ARRT (N), or CAMRT nuclear medicine technology certification. Eligible applicants must also document a minimum of 2 years full- time employment as a Nuclear Medicine Technologist (4,000 hours). A successful examinee’s certification will last seven (7) years from the exam date, and will expire thereafter. Upon successful completion of the exam, the technologist will receive a certificate and will be granted the right to use the title Nuclear Cardiology Technologist (NCT). A questionnaire will be available at the NMTCB’s Booth in Toronto regarding the possibility of future dates and locations for the specialty exam, as the NMTCB would like input from its members about where and when the exam should be offered. Please stop by the NMTCB Booth and fill-out the survey if you are interested in taking the exam. You can also provide input by logging on to the NMTCB’s web site, or by contacting the office by phone or e-mail. In addition, the NMTCB may con- sider other specialty exams in the future, and encourages its members to communicate with the Board regarding the types of specialty exams that would be of interest. The Nuclear Cardiology exam is not a mandatory exam, but will hopefully be a means of enhancing the growth of the field of nuclear medicine technology. Successful completion of this exam will also provide technologists with a certification that is indicative of their areas of expertise beyond their entry-level credentials. For an applica- tion, contact Jennifer Gaffey, Associate Executive Director of the NMTCB, at 1-800-659-3953 or via e-mail at jgaffey@ nmtcb.org. NMTCB Specialty Exam continued from page 1 7

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