It’s October – Go Pink! Breast Cancer Awareness Month

 

From the start- Get your mammogram and encourage your friends and family to comply.

Throw Back Thursday – In 1992 Congress passed the Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) to ensure women got high quality screening mammograms.  The standard bearer for the new law was not a woman seeking better health care for women. It was a Congressman whose sister received a poor quality procedure and her cancer was not diagnosed until it was too late.  As with any new law the framework for implementation required regulations to govern the quality standards.  It was with this law that the first criminal penalty in radiography could be assessed as part of the package for noncompliance.

The implementation date for compliance for MQSA was in two years (1994).   A big job to get regulations written and get the health care community and radiology to agree upon what the standards would say.  That is not an easy task. At the beginning of MQSA, digital machines were still on the drawing board. Everyone was performing analog mammograms with all the inherent problems that are associated with quality control for film processors. Processor quality control was infrequent and not well understood in most mammography departments. It was a daunting project to write standards and gain compliance. Then the work force had to be educated.

Several task force meetings were held by invitation and sponsored by the FDA.  Expert radiologists and radiologic technologists were invited along with the representatives of mammography equipment manufacturers. Marilyn Sackett MEd, RT(R), FASRT, President of Advanced Health Education Center and Peggy Hoosier MEd, RT(R)(M), Professor at Lamar University received invitations to participate in the task force meeting in Ruston, VA. Advanced Health Education Center (AHEC) had already assessed the need for standardized mammography education. The first AHEC sponsored mammography program was in October, 1989. It was followed by the first QA/QC program in February, 1990.  The need for both programs was significant and they have been regularly scheduled coursework in the AHEC Curriculum for 28 years.

The need for continuing education at the beginning of MQSA was so great that Peggy came back to Lamar University and wrote a grant to the Texas Cancer Council to provide seminars in local communities for assistance in understanding how to meet the MQSA compliance regulations. AHEC partnered with Lamar University to deliver these seminars in strategic geographic locations around the state.

The FDA modeled the 1992 federal legislation after the ACR Mammography Accreditation Program following its success in improving image quality.  As a result of MQSA, Mammography is the only radiographic procedure regulated by federal law.  It requires all mammography facilities to be accredited by an approved body, certified by US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and inspected by the HHS (or State agency acting on their behalf).

After 23 years in implementation, the strides in mammography improvement are incredible. Just this year we embark on a new phase named EQUIP (Enhancing Quality Utilizing the Inspection Process). It is a credit to the profession that we have come so far.

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