KOKOMO, Ind. – “RT in DC” may sound like the name of the latest rock band, but for John Hughey it’s all about patient safety.
Hughey, chair of the Division of Allied Health, took to Capitol Hill recently to join more than 100 other radiologic technologists to lobby for a bill that will improve the safety of patients undergoing medical imaging or radiation therapy. He was selected among hundreds of Hoosiers in his field by the Indiana Society of Radiologic Technologists (ISRT). John was accompanied by his wife, Karen, who is also a radiologic technologist.
The meetings were in conjunction with the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) campaign called “RT in DC.” The ISRT contacted Hughey to attend and seek support from Indiana Congressmen and Senators of the CARE bill – Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility and Excellence in medical imaging and radiation therapy.
Hughey was able to meet with U.S. Reps. Joe Donnelly, Todd Young, and Mike Pence, as well as representatives of Sens. Richard Lugar and Andre Carson.
“Passing of the CARE bill will improve patient safety by setting federal minimum educational standards for individuals who perform medical imaging examination and who plan or deliver radiation therapy,” said Hughey. “The ASRT, along with the Alliance for Quality Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy – an organization of manufacturers of radiation producing equipment – have been working to pass this legislation for the last few years.”
The CARE bill could potentially save the federal government more than $92 million over a five-year span by preventing mistakes and reducing repeated examinations, according to the Congressional Budget Office, added Hughey.
“The CARE bill is important to us as radiologic sciences professionals because it directly benefits patient care,” said Hughey. “Part of the concern regarding medical radiation errors has been to determine where the root cause is occurring. Equipment manufacturers have been designing software and other safeguards. We, as a profession, must do our part in educating radiologic technologists in ways that can reduce radiation.”
Hughey added that in some states there are no minimum radiation education standards.
“The meetings came at a particularly heightened time of awareness about radiation and the potential dangers,” Hughey said. “The New York Times has been publishing a series of articles about serious medical radiation errors and the issues in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami.”
The CARE bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Overall, the bill has 135 cosponsors from the House and nine from the Senate. Because the meetings took place during the time of contingency budget hearings in the capital, Hughey said two Indiana congressmen had to leave during the visits.
“It was a great honor to be asked to go to the ‘RT in DC’ event,” said Hughey. “Being one of the few representatives for more than 400,000 registered radiologic technologists bestowed a sense of obligation not many professionals can experience.”
Steve Cohen, president of the ISRT, said Hughey was a great asset to the “RT in DC” team.
“I could not think of a better person to choose to go to Washington, D.C., to share with our Congressmen the importance of the CARE Bill,” Cohen said, adding that Hughey has been a member of the legislative committee with ISRT. “John made it clear to everyone we met on Capitol Hill that the time has come to pass this bill.”
Cohen stated this week that the CARE Bill has not been reintroduced to Congress at this time, and that the government printing office has not received the text of the CARE Bill (S.3737). This will happen once the House has introduced the bill.
“We are hoping that the bill will be back in Congress within the next week or so,” Cohen said. “Next year would be very difficult, considering the climate on Capitol Hill and that elections will be first and foremost on everyone’s mind.”