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Oaklawn Echocardiography lab receives renewal of national accreditation

MARSHALL – Oaklawn’s Echocardiography Lab, which is responsible for ultrasound imaging of the human heart, has received another three-year term of accreditation from the nationally recognized Intersocietal Accreditation Commission.

The accreditation focuses on the area of adult transthoracic echocardiograms, the most common type of echocardiogram, which generates images of the internal parts of the heart using ultrasound.

“Echocardiography procedures performed in hospitals, outpatient centers and physicians’ offices offer a way for life-threatening heart-disorders and other diseases to be detected early,“ said Jess Kingston, Oaklawn’s director of Cardiopulmonary, Sleep Services and Emergency Preparedness.

“Several factors are critical to quality patient testing,“ Kingston said. “They include the skill of the echocardiography sonographer who is doing the examination, the type of equipment used, the background and knowledge of the interpreting physician and the measures that are used to ensure high quality.“

Through accreditation, the Ellicott City, Maryland-based IAC offers a “seal of approval“ on which patients can rely, as an indication that Oaklawn has been carefully critiqued on all aspects of its operations considered relevant by medical experts in the field of echocardiography.

“The process for re-accreditation actually begins immediately after the accreditation occurs,” Kingston said. “The process is ongoing, requiring quarterly submissions of data and other documents. This is an arduous process to say the least.”

IAC accreditation is granted only to facilities shown to be providing quality patient care that complies with national standards, Kingston said. The comprehensive application process includes a detailed case study review, he added.

“We always advise patients to make sure their echocardiography procedures are performed at accredited facilities, because for many facilities accreditation is a voluntary process,“ Kingston said. “Our Echo Department should be commended for the daily work beyond patient care that is put into maintaining this very prestigious certification.”

According to IAC officials, cardiovascular diseases are the No. 1 cause of death in the United States and, on average, one American dies every 39 seconds of disorders of the heart and blood vessels. The American Heart Association estimates that the direct and indirect cost of cardiovascular disease in the United States for 2010 was $503.2 billion.

More information about the IAC and its accreditation process is available at www.intersocietal.org.