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Idaho X-ray techs don't need license, radiologists ask Boise for change

By By Caleb James, Reporter
Published On: Mar 11 2013 10:44:07 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 11 2013 11:19:32 PM CDT

Caleb James reports.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

Did you know Idaho is one of only 5 states, plus Washington D.C., where an X-Ray or MRI imaging tech doesn't need a license?     

Some eastern Idaho medical professionals think that should change.

Radiologists and other medical imaging professionals are urging the Idaho senate to reconsider a bill requiring a license to practice medical imaging work in the state.

Right now, it is legal for almost anyone to take an X-Ray in the Gem State, but Senate Bill 1115 was tabled earlier in the 2013 session.  

"I wouldn't want to work alongside someone who doesn't have training," said Kaylyenne Price.

Price is the MRI Coordinator for Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.
 
"It's an extremely dangerous environment," said Price. "You're putting a lot of people at risk by not having the proper training and education."
 
Most larger hospitals like EIRMC won't hire imaging techs unless they're licensed like Price. But if you've had an X-Ray in Idaho, there's a chance the person behind the controls wasn't licensed.

Reporter Caleb James even tried his hand at taking an X-Ray image of a prosthetic foot on Monday.

"This is the X-Ray Caleb just took," said imaging tech Wendy Mickelsen.

Mickelsen said the X-Ray James took turned out to be a good first try, but there wasn't much risk imaging a fake foot.

Mickleson said the Idaho Senate Health and Welfare Committee was irresponsible tabling the bill requiring techs to be licensed.
 
"It is not the national standard of care to not have a requirement for the technologists taking imaging exams that use radiation," said Mickelsen.  

Renowned Interventional Radiologist Fritz Schmutz reads X-Rays taken by the licensed techs at EIRMC and unlicensed techs at other clinics.

"You can tell the difference between those who have been certified and those who have not," said Schmutz.

Sometimes, said Schmutz, a lower quality image can leave a serious condition undiagnosed. An untrained tech can also end up exposing a patient to dangerous radiation levels.

Senate Bill 1115 would make it illegal to hire an unlicensed tech in the state of Idaho.

Our station contacted Senate Health and Welfare Committee chairman senator Lee Heider (R) Twin Falls. Heider said the bill has merit, but the fiscal note for setting up a radiology board would cost $50,000.

Heider said the state cannot afford the cost.

The Idaho Society of Radiologic Technologists said establishing a radiology board would cost much less than $50,000.

ISRT chairman Mike Gurr provided this statement on Monday:

"I was told by a state agency that the fiscal note for setting up a Radiology Board would be $10,000," said Gurr. "I believe that most Licensure board member's costs are paid with the funds collected from those to be licensed without affecting the state's budget. The ISRT intends to cover the costs of establishing and running the radiology board with the fees set by the board."

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