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January 21, 2011

Pediatric Heart Center at Children’s Hospital gets national accreditation

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The Pediatric and Fetal Echocardiography Laboratories at the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital has been granted accreditation by the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Echocardiography Laboratories (ICAEL). The laboratory is one of four accredited pediatric echo labs in the state of Virginia and one of 144 in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico to be so recognized for its commitment to high quality patient care and its provision of quality diagnostic testing. pediatric_team

Each year thousands of children are born with a heart defect while others will develop acquired heart disease such as arrhythmias or cardiomyopathies. Information provided by echocardiographic testing is useful in the detection and management of these types of heart disease. It also is a complex imaging technique that relies on the experience and training of both the physician and sonographer. Their interpretive and technical abilities determine the diagnostic accuracy of an echocardiographic examination. ICAEL developed their accreditation program in order to evaluate the quality of echocardiography laboratories and set high standards for their most critical elements.

Participation in the accreditation process is voluntary. Accreditation status signifies that the facility has been reviewed by an independent agency which recognizes the laboratory’s commitment to quality testing for the diagnosis of heart disease.

“The comprehensive application process was extensive and took about one year to complete,” said Christine Saunders, technical director of the Pediatric & Fetal Echo Labs at UVA Children’s Hospital. “Accreditation is granted for a period of three years, after which we will seek re-accreditation by demonstrating continual high quality performance.”

In addition, the U.S. Congress passed and upheld the Patients and Providers Act in July of this year. The bill requires that by 2012, providers of advanced diagnostic imaging services must obtain accreditation as a condition for reimbursement. This, however, was not the primary reason for obtaining the accreditation.

“The on-going process of self-study was our motivation. The goal is to always strive to improve our quality of services and positively impact the overall care for our patients and their families,” Saunders added.

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