Preventative maintenance and ACR accreditation changes
Preventative Maintenance and regular quality control are the cornerstones of maintaining consistent, safe and reliable ultrasound equipment. Recently, there have been changes to the standards set forth by the American College of Radiology (ACR) for ultrasound equipment quality control.
The previous standards for ACR accreditation and compliance required preventative maintenance and semi‐annual quality control inspections which evaluates system sensitivity / penetration, image uniformity, electrical and mechanical safety and optional but recommended caliper accuracy testing in gray scale or B‐mode imaging.
There is now an annual survey which is a more in‐depth testing of the system and, according to the ACR website, must be performed in addition to the semi‐annual quality control inspections. This annual inspection includes the essentials of the quality control inspections but also examines the displays on the system and the “primary interpretation displays” if they are located on‐site which means PACS reading displays.
There is also a requirement that as of June 1, 2014, any applications for ACR accreditation must be accompanied by documentation of these inspections as well as records of any corrective actions taken for items not within compliance. For example, if a transducer is found to have elements out and that is noted in a service report, documentation showing the deficiency has been corrected must accompany quality control documents. ACR is also stating that all measurements for image uniformity, geometric accuracy, system sensitivity and contrast / spatial resolution must be made using an ultrasound phantom or “test object.” While I try to refrain from product endorsement, I can state that we utilize the ATS Model 539 phantom for all PMs performed by Conquest Imaging engineers because of quality and durability.
Beyond the ACR requirements for semi‐annual and annual inspections, I would be remiss if I did not add to the list a thorough cleaning of the system and a full electronic and hard copy backup of the system. These additional steps ensure more reliable operation of the system and dramatically reduced downtime in the event of software, computer or hard drive issues.