When neurodiagnostic technologist Connie Kubiak talks to physicians about who should be performing EEG studies, the first thing she does is ask about family.
“If your family member needed to have an EEG done, would you have them come to this office and do it?,” she says. “Are you confident that your staff would give you the best quality study for your family member? And if you can’t say absolutely, then your staff is not trained well enough.”
Kubiak (R. EEG/EP T., CNIM CLTM) is the current president of ASET the Neurodiagnostic Society and her group is lobbying hard to make sure the most qualified professionals are the one’s performing EEG studies.
“There should not be people monitoring your epilepsy patients who are not credentialed and who do not have at least three to five years of experience,” she told Neurology Insights in an interview.
Physicians may or may not realize just how unregulated the field of neurodiagnostic technology is — currently there is no state that requires EEG techs to have any formal education, or to be licensed or credentialed in any way. Many techs just receive on-the-job training and that, said Kubiak, is often not enough.
At the very minimum these techs should have the Electroencephalographic Technologist (R. EEG T.) credential. Beyond this, technologists can earn more specialized credentials like the following offered by ABRET, the industry’s main neurodiagnostic credentialing and accreditation body:
- Evoked Potential Technologist (R. EP T.)
- Certification in Neurophysiologic Intraoperative Monitoring (CNIM)
- Certification in Long Term Monitoring (CLTM)
- Certification for Autonomic Professionals (CAP)
While none of these credentials are mandatory, they demonstrate competence, which is warranted considering the job these techs are asked to do.
“We’re bringing patients into an epilepsy unit and we’re making them have what would be considered a medical emergency if they were outside the hospital,” says Kubiak. “We’re taking their meds away, we’re sleep depriving them. We want them to have one of their typical events.”
EEG techs need to recognize and respond to these events in a timely manner to keep the patient safe.
Patient safety is her group’s highest priority, Kubiak said, but there are other reasons physicians should care whether their EEG techs are credentialed. Monitoring done by less qualified professionals is more likely to have errors and need to be repeated. This can be costly and it doesn’t look good for the ordering physician.
“It affects their reputation because now the referring facility knows that Dr. XYZ has technically suboptimal studies being done,” says Kubiak.
Or worse, a malpractice suit may come into play: “You’ve got to make sure that your people are qualified, that they recognize the artifact, that they’re hooking it up correctly, that they’re doing it the same way each time, and that you’re getting the best quality procedure every time.”
Physicians already have a lot on their plates, they shouldn’t have to add tech incompetence to their list of things to deal with. Asking for credentialed techs will go a long way toward solving this problem. It’s in everyone’s best interest, especially the patient’s.
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