June 23, 2017

Are You Prepared for MQSA's new EQUIP Inspection Criteria?

The Mammography Quality Standards Act has increased the overall effectiveness of mammography since 1992 by providing standardized criteria  for accreditation and certification of breast imaging facilities.

The most cited cause of cited cause of denial for accreditation and certification remains image quality.

As we cited in a previous blog post, while the technology for imaging equipment has improved greatly, positioning and compression are usually where most mammographic images fall short during inspection.

To address this issue, the MQSA introduced the Enhancing Quality Under The Inspection Prograom (EQUIP) is to ensure that every certified facility has a process in place to regularly monitor and control image quality.

Although this program began in January 2017, there is still a lot of confusion surrounding EQUIP and many facilities are still confused as to how to prepare for this new inspection criteria.  Right now MQSA is only issuing observations for improvement under EQUIP; in 2018 they will be issuing citations for unaddressed issues.

The confusion is understandable as there is not mandated approach for corrective action - each site is left to develop and maintain their process for corrective action.   

So what is EQUIP? 

Equip is three new image quality control question that will added to the annual MQSA inspection for breast imaging facilities. 

  • The first new inspection question assesses for facility procedures to ensure that clinical images continue to comply with accrediting body standards (including image quality attributes such as positioning), and include regular reviews of sample images from each technologist and each interpreting physician.
  • The second new inspection question assesses for corrective procedures when clinical images are of poor quality, including a mechanism for providing ongoing interpreting physician feedback to technologists or other designated personnel.
  • The third new inspection question assesses for the procedure for lead interpreting physician oversight of QA/QC records—including overseeing the frequency of performance of all required tests—and determining whether corrective actions were taken when needed.


Where to learn more:

FDA Logo The FDA has posted several resources on their website for breast imaging facilities to learn more about EQUIP. 

If you have not yet had your annual inspection, the video "Equip, Explaining the Process" depicts a mock inspection scenario could be very helpful in gaining a better understanding of questioning involved. 

Other resources the FDA offers are a  quick fact sheet - "The Annual MQSA Inspection: What Facilities Can Do To Help" and a "Frequently Asked Questions for Facilities" document. 

Available in the ICPME library archive is the prerecorded webinar (April 25, 2017) "A Critical Mammography Inspection Update -The Impact of EQUIP" which can be viewed on their site at no charge.  This webinar qualifies for 1 PRA AMA Credit for physicians and 1 ARRT Category A Credit for technologists and will remain on their site until March 30, 2019.  

Beekley Medical is committed to helping you stay informed on this critical new criteria for MQSA inspections.  In addition to sponsoring the AHRA webinar "EQUIP - An Essential MQSA Inspection Update" (June 20, 2017) we will continue to seek out opportunities and resources for you to access more information about EQUIP.  

Committed to helping you do more than prepare.

Patient Positioning with Bella Blankets Protective Coverlets and TomoSPOT Nipple Markers for Mammography  The use of Bella Blankets® protective coverlets aligns with proper positioning initiatives to support EQUIP guidelines by helping to keep the breast up and out and in place during positioning and under compression. Its thin design also helps technologists position patients closer to the chest wall. 80% of Bella Blankets customers surveyed say they get more breast tissue on their images compared to prior images where another product or nothing was used on the receptor plate. 

Bella Blankets FDA 510(k) clearance applies to all mammography imaging equipment.

No matter what breast imaging technology you use, nipple markers provide a visual and palpable aid to positioning.

In the CC view they help to ensure the nipple is centered without medial or lateral deviation. In the MLO view, nipple markers help to  locate the exact pectoral-nipple line (PNL) so you can determine if the pectoral muscle is down to the level of the PNL. By helping to locate the PNL in both views, the nipple marker acts as a visual landmark to help determine if the CC is within 1 cm of the MLO view. 

Beekley Medical offers a wide selection of nipple markers, including styles made specifically for digital and and 3D imaging equipment. 

Since image quality relies on good positioning, why not avail yourself of every tool available to good positioning easier?

Connect with your Beekley Medical Account Manager to learn more or to request a trial evaluation of Bella Blankets or any of Beekley's nipple markers for mammography.  


Related Articles: 

New Mammography Standards: MQSA introduces EQUIP for Better Positioning in Mammography

How Much More Breast Tissue Can You Acquire?

Are Skin Markers Still Relevant in the Age of 3-D Mammography?


1Bella Blankets Clinical Advantages Survey 2017, Beekley Medical®



Mary Lang
Senior Marketing Communications Manager

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