The American College of Radiology, or ACR®, accredits facilities that provide mammography and other medical imaging services. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) designates the ACR® as an accrediting body under the Mammography Quality Standards Act. When a facility becomes accredited by the ACR®, it becomes certified by the FDA and can legally offer mammography services in the United States.
The ACR® can accredit facilities providing mammography in all states. As of 2011, the states of Iowa, Texas and Arkansas offer facilities accreditation through their individual state departments of health. Unless this type of certification is required by state law, mammography facilities in those states can choose to undergo ACR® accreditation instead.
The ACR® can also accredit imaging facilities that perform procedures such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed axial tomography (CAT) scans, positron emission tomography (PET) scans, or nuclear medicine. These facilities may need accreditation to comply with Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act requirements for receiving Medicare payments. The ACR® is approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to accredit facilities that perform these tests.
The ACR® accreditation process involves ensuring a facility meets certain standards. These standards include the facility's personnel qualifications, equipment standards, quality control of the imaging equipment, equipment inspections, in-house medical audits, standard of reporting documentation, adequate recordkeeping and a robust patient complaint system. Facilities must complete an entry application, organize equipment testing by a medical physicist and pay an application fee before the ACR® can begin the accreditation process.
ACR® accreditation for mammography facilities lasts three years from the date of accreditation. The ACR® notifies the FDA of the successful accreditation and the facility is sent a certificate to prove it can legally offer mammography services. A facility can get a provisional six-month certificate that allows it to operate as a mammography testing facility until the accreditation process has been achieved. Each mammography unit is treated as separate under ACR® accreditation and attracts a separate fee. The ACR® may instruct that mobile mammography unit accreditation be under a facility's current ACR® accreditation, be treated as a separate facility or be treated as multiple facilities, depending on the circumstances.
The ACR® itself is a society of radiologists with a legislative branch and an executive branch. More than 400 of its members volunteer annually to create and optimize accreditation programs. The ACR® receives input from specialized radiology societies, federal agencies and the U.S. military.