Masthead Spring 2010
In This Issue
Letter from the Editor
Satisfying the Demand for Quality and Safety
New Exams Offer Positive Changes for Our Profession
Focused Practice in Brachytherapy
Reflections: New York Times Series on Radiation Errors
Focus on Residents: Authorized User Eligibility
PQI: One Diplomate's Experience
2010 National Summit on e-Communications in Imaging
Bill Includes Incentive for MOC Participation

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ABR logoWe hope you will enjoy reading this issue of The Beam.If you have questions or suggestions about how we can improve our newsletter to better meet your needs, please send an e-mail to
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Letter from the Editor   
Spring has sprung, and it's time for the first edition of The Beam for 2010. The Beam is one of our opportunities to communicate with radiologists, physicists, and radiation oncologists in addition to trainees in all three disciplines. 
We present focused articles and a message from the executive director in each issue, but we need to do more. 
Going forward, we are planning additional features to enhance communication with our readers. 
     Dr. Reed Dunnnick, outgoing president of the ABR, reflects on the current environment of extensive change in certification and the need to satisfy the public's demand for quality and safety. Dr. Dunnick will hand the reins to Dr. Bruce Haffty at the end of May.
     Dr. Gary Becker, ABR executive director, has selected to focus his article on the ABR's Exam of the Future and Maintenance of Certification. In this discussion, he places the emphasis on communication, communication, and more communication. This must be our mantra with the climate of continuous change in healthcare and certification.
     In this issue, Focus on Radiation Oncology discusses focused practice recognition in brachytherapy. An article provided by Dr. Beth Erickson, ABR trustee, and Dr. Bruce Haffty, ABR trustee and president-elect, suggests that brachytherapy represents an area of practice that is ideally suited for an innovative pathway in MOC. This is a must-read article for radiation oncolo-gists and physicians in other disciplines as we all consider the implications of recognition for more focused areas of practice. 
    Focus on Radiologic Physics provides insight regarding the New York Times series on radiation errors. Dr. Geoffrey S. Ibbott, ABR radiologic physics trustee, along with the other physics trustees, addresses and responds to statements provided in the Times article. Patient safety is at the forefront of today's healthcare reform; therefore, all of our readers should find this article of interest. 
    Dr. Duane G. Mezwa has invited Dr. Milton Guiberteau, ABR nuclear medicine trustee, to discuss Authorized User (AU) status in the Focus on Residents section of this issue. This article provides basic information and discusses the significance and value of AU status. Get the answer to this important question: Why should all of our diagnostic radiology trainees seek AU eligibility? 
    The importance of patient safety and practice quality improvement (PQI) is emphasized in an article by Donna Breckenridge, ABR communications director, on Dr. Stan Handel's ARRS chest CT radiation safety project. We plan to provide more PQI project reviews for our readers in future issues because this area is critical to the specialty and often confusing for diplomates engaged in MOC.
     Finally, we must continue to enhance the value of The Beam. You, our readers, can help. We ask that you send suggested topics or questions that we can address with new FAQs to Donna Breckenridge (
or to your editor (berquist.thomas For example, Dr. David Johnson will provide an article reviewing his recent MOC audit experience in the fall 2010 issue of The Beam. This should provide insight and a sense of calm to those who may be selected for audits in the future.
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Thomas H. Berquist, MD
Maintenance of Certification: Satisfying the Public's Demand for Quality and Safety
By N. Reed Dunnick, MD, ABR president
DunnickThe quality and safety movement in medicine can be traced back to the beginning of the 20th century when the 1910 landmark report by Abraham Flexner resulted in a public outcry and dramatic improvement in medical school curricula. During the 1930s, the establishment of medical specialty boards created standards for training and testing of candidates to assure the public that physicians had attained an acceptable level of knowledge and expertise. As state medical boards, regulators, providers, and patients looked for evidence of quality, board certification became an increasingly important credential. Read on.
New Exams Offer Positive Changes for Our Profession
By Gary J. Becker, MD, ABR executive director 
Becker.jpgIn 2010, we are living in an unprecedented age of transparency and accountability. Given the U.S. mortgage crisis; failures of the major American automobile manufacturers and banks; epidemic corporate greed, malfeasance, and incompetence; and corruption in trusted government leaders, we should be happy that additional oversight--even regulation--and transparency will ultimately derive from the American public's anger and discontent. Read more.
Radiation Oncology: Focused Practice in Brachytherapy
          By Bruce G. Haffty, MD, ABR trustee and president elect
          and Beth A. Erickson, MD, ABR trustee


In radiation oncology, we are currently exploring the option of focused practice in brachytherapy during Maintenance of Certification (MOC). While several subspecialty areas have been considered, brachytherapy represents an area of practice within radiation oncology that is ideally suited to a focused practice certification during MOC. It is widely recognized within the specialty that to maintain expertise and proficiency, brachytherapy requires special skills and a critical case volume beyond what is routinely achieved in training. Read more.
Radiologic Physics: Reflections on The New York Times Series on Radiation Errors
         By Geoffrey Ibbott, PhD, ABR radiologic physics trustee,
         in collaboration with Drs. Morin, Frey, and Thomas

A series of articles in The New York Times during January and February 2010 identified a number of serious and tragic accidents involving radiation therapy treatments and CT studies. The articles were well written and thoroughly researched, and they pointed out with startling clarity that while radiation offers ever greater potential to cure or alleviate the suffering from disease, the advanced technologies also offer new and sometimes unexpected ways to do harm. The articles also raised concerns regarding the qualifications and credentials of medical physicists who are responsible for assuring the technical performance of radiation therapy treatment equipment. Read on.

Focus on Residents: Authorized User Eligibility
         By Milton J. Guiberteau, MD, FACR, FACNM, ABR Trustee 

Both trainees and practicing radiologists often misunderstand the concept of the Authorized User (AU) of radioisotopes for diagnosis and treatment in radiology and nuclear medicine. This can be compounded by an incomplete appreciation of the value of ABR certification in diagnostic radiology or radiation oncology in obtaining AU status. To take advantage of this benefit of residency training and ABR certification, candidates and diplomates need to understand certain basic concepts about Authorized Users. Read on.

Practice Quality Improvement: One Diplomate's Experience 
By Donna Breckenridge, MA, ABR communications director 

Dr. Stan Handel embarked on a practice quality improvement (PQI) project last year, as part of the required process to achieve his goal of maintaining his 10-year subspecialty certification in neuroradiology. Dr. Handel is pleased that the observations he made through his project--while helping him move closer to his goal--had more far-reaching results, prompting changes that have ultimately benefited patients receiving chest CT scans at the Oklahoma State University Medical Center in Tulsa. Read on.

ABR Foundation Offers 2010 National Summit
on e-Communication in Imaging
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Are you frustrated by communication barriers among physicians, payor groups, consumers, and patients? Do you have suggestions on how to improve com-munication? Is your organization an industry leader in effective communication? If so, please join us for the 2010 ABR Foundation Summit, Improving
Patient Care through e-Communication in Imaging, which will be held August 5-6 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Additional information and online registration are available here.
Healthcare Legislation Includes Incentive for MOC Participation 
MOC logoThe recent healthcare reform measure signed into law by President Obama includes participation in Maintenance of Certification (MOC) as an option for the nation's physicians to fulfill requirements of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI). The bill enhances PQRI by opening up an additional MOC pathway for physician participation in quality reporting starting in 2011 and provides an increased incentive payment beyond the PQRI bonus to physicians who choose to participate voluntarily. Read on.
Thank you for reading this issue of The Beam. If you have any comments, suggestions, or questions, please email 
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Gary J. Becker, M.D., Executive Director
American Board of Radiology
Copyright 2010. The American Board of Radiology, 5441 E. Williams Blvd., Suite 200, Tucson, AZ 85711
Phone: (520) 790-2900  Fax: (520) 790-3200