CareCore National Adopts 'Image Gently™' Radiology Standards to Reduce Harmful Childhood Radiation Exposure

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CareCore National, a leading benefit management company for diagnostic imaging services, announced today its endorsement of the Image Gently™ initiative, a national campaign led by pediatric radiology experts to minimize children's unnecessary exposure to harmful radiation. Image Gently™, created by the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging, a group of more than 30 medical professional societies, underscores the need for the medical community to pay special attention when ordering radiological imaging services such as CT scans for children, due to the heightened risks of cancer and other health problems associated with over-radiation.

CareCore National's top priority is ensuring the safety, quality and appropriateness of imaging

CareCore National, a leading benefit management company for diagnostic imaging services, announced today its endorsement of the Image Gently™ initiative, a national campaign led by pediatric radiology experts to minimize children's unnecessary exposure to harmful radiation. Image Gently™, created by the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging, a group of more than 30 medical professional societies, underscores the need for the medical community to pay special attention when ordering radiological imaging services such as CT scans for children, due to the heightened risks of cancer and other health problems associated with over-radiation. CareCore National has pledged to assist the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging by ensuring that all radiologists that participate in CareCore National-managed programs understand and use the new professional guidelines for imaging in children. CareCore National also encourages all participating radiologists to be accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR), a process that helps to ensure that the highest standards of quality and safety are used.

Dr. Marilyn Goske, Chairwoman of the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging, applauded CareCore National's effort. "By supporting the Image Gently™ campaign and implementing lower dose pediatric protocols and encouraging ACR accreditation for all their CT facilities, CareCore National is promoting radiation protection for children," said Dr. Goske.

The Image Gently™ campaign and CareCore National's efforts to promote safe pediatric imaging are a response to increasing concern in the medical community and in scientific literature that the proliferation of imaging technology has, at times, created inappropriate overuse of radiation-based services like CT scans. Approximately 65 million CT scans will be performed in 2008; of these, seven million will be performed on children, and the number is increasing by 10 percent per year. This radiation exposure is a particular cancer concern for children because of their higher sensitivity to radiation and the fact that they have a greater number of remaining years in which to develop a radiation-induced cancer.

Among radiological techniques, CT is the largest contributor to medical radiation dose in the United States. The need for the Image Gently™ campaign's guidelines arose out of a recognition that the techniques many physicians use in pediatric imaging may not be tailored to children's smaller bodies, resulting in radiation exposures that are greater than necessary. CT technology in particular is widely used among all ages of children, with 33 percent of pediatric scans performed on children under 10 years of age.

The Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging, which includes leading professional societies such as the Society for Pediatric Radiology, the American College of Radiology and the American Association of Physicists developed Image Gently™ to educate radiologists, radiology technologists, radiation physicists and the public about the importance of using appropriate imaging techniques for children. By adopting the Image Gently™ initiative, CareCore National will now require its participating radiologists to take the Image Gently™ pledge - a promise to abide by the guidelines set forth by the Alliance to ensure that any test using ionizing radiation is performed with the lowest possible radiation exposure.

"CareCore National's top priority is ensuring the safety, quality and appropriateness of imaging," said Dr. Shelley Weiner, Chief Medical Officer of CareCore National. "Our medical advisory panel works continually to ensure that the standards we require of our participating physicians reflect the most current medical literature and professional recommendations. By incorporating the Image Gently™ Program into our quality assurance program, we will make radiologists and referring physicians more aware of the importance of using imaging tests in an appropriate way, especially on children."

CareCore National's Image Gently™ pledge requires that radiologists look for opportunities to lower radiation dosage in pediatric imaging by appropriately adjusting imaging protocols and techniques with the assistance of their medical physicist. CareCore National will provide a guide on radiation exposure for different imaging procedures. By pledging, participating practices acknowledge that every member of the imaging team plays a vital role in caring for the patient and needs to be actively involved in ongoing dialogue and process enhancements that ensure radiation safety for young patients. To ensure compliance, CareCore National will include a review of all the components of the Image Gently™ Program as part of its site visits.

"Radiologists play a crucial role in today's healthcare system, offering highly advanced diagnostic tools that have revolutionized the practice of medicine over the past decade and minimizing the need for more invasive medical procedures," continued Dr. Weiner. "However, with these technological advancements comes a need to ensure that imaging procedures be used appropriately, especially among radiation-sensitive populations like children. Each examination must not only be appropriate for the clinical problem, but also technically designed for the individual child in order to minimize radiation exposure and maximize the information obtained from the test. Raising attention to the issue of radiation exposure in children will also help to focus the radiology community on the need to control radiation exposure from diagnostic x-rays for the entire population."

About the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging
The Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging is a consortium of professional societies who are concerned about radiation exposure children receive when undergoing medical imaging procedures. Currently, 33 medical societies from the United States and around the world representing more than 500,000 medical professionals in the fields of radiology, pediatrics, medical physics and radiation safety are involved. Please visit the Image Gently™ Web site http://www.imagegently.org for more information.

About CareCore National, LLC
CareCore National is a specialty benefit management company that delivers quality and utilization management solutions for radiology, cardiology and oncology services. Our innovative and quality-driven approach has made us one of the country's fastest-growing specialty benefit management companies.

Founded in 1994, CareCore National has taken its industry-leading expertise in managing both quality and utilization of outpatient diagnostic studies and added first-in-marketplace management of cardiac imaging, implantable devices, radiation therapy and high cost injectible drugs primarily related to cancer care. Through our robust product offerings, CareCore National works with health plan clients to improve utilization and enhance quality. Our expert staff of medical directors and nurses administers the dynamic clinical protocols and innovative approaches needed to deliver first-class specialty benefits management. CareCore National is URAC accredited in Health Utilization Management and certified by NCQA in Utilization Management. For more information, visit http://www.carecorenational.com.

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