MRI, Ultrasound and Mammography
Operating MRI, mammography and ultrasound equipment does not fall within a medical assistant's scope of
practice. These are highly technical tasks, which require specific training, licenses and degrees. Continuing
education courses may also be required to maintain these licenses and are accepted only if they pertain
specifically to mammography or to the breast. If a mammographer is working in a facility that uses digital
mammography, 6 of the 15 credit hours must be specific to digital imaging of the breast. All mammographers
must perform a minimum of 200 mammograms within each 2 year period. You can read about the regulations
pertaining to continuing education courses, among these are Texas, California, Iowa and Florida here.
The effect of x-ray radiation is cumulative; a number of minor doses over a number of years is equivalent to a
large dose at one time. X rays can damage, even destroy living cells and must be used with precision and
extreme care. If an untrained operator uses the equipment wrong they can cause severe burns, cancer,
leukemia, and cataracts. They can speed aging, reduce immunity to disease, and bring about disastrous
changes in the reproductive cells. Lead screens, sheets of lead-impregnated rubber, and leaded glass are
used to shield patients and technicians from undesired radiation.
Where Special X-Ray Training is Needed
Some states do not have specific licensing requirements for medical assistants or require formal training in
radiologic services, therefore, great caution is advised. The responsibility, in those states, ultimately lies on the
take radiological images of their patients. Despite of lacking state mandates for licensing, larger facilities with
accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) often do not
hire applicants without ARRT certification, however, one should not confuse limited-use operators certification
with state licensing and registration by the state.