TESTIMONY OF THE MAINE MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
IN OPPOSITION TO
L.D 490, An Act To Exempt Chiropractic Assistants from Being Required To
Hold Licenses as Radiographers, Nuclear Medicine Technologists or
Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development
Room 208, Cross State Office Building
Tuesday, March 14, 2017, 1:00 pm
Good afternoon Senator Volk, Representative Fecteau, and Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development. I am Peter Michaud, Associate General Counsel for the Maine Medical Association (MMA) and a registered nurse. I live in Readfield, and I am speaking in opposition to LD 490, An Act To Exempt Chiropractic Assistants from Being Required To Hold Licenses as Radiographers, Nuclear Medicine Technologists or Radiation Therapists.
The MMA is a professional association representing more than 4,000 physicians, residents, and medical students in Maine whose mission is to support Maine physicians, advance the quality of medicine in Maine, and promote the health of all Maine citizens. We represent physicians from all medical specialties, including members of the Maine Radiologic Society (radiologists), as well as public health and primary care.
Radiography is not a totally benign process. Radiation can cause cell damage, and it can increase cancer risks well into the future. Furthermore, not all X-rays are the same. Dental x-rays use very low doses of radiation. Chest x-rays use more, but even those use less radiation than spine x-rays…and it is spine x-rays that are the most common in the chiropractic setting. In fact, a lower back x-ray uses 1.5 mSv (milliSieverts), 150 times as much radiation as a panoramic dental x-ray. Radiation risks from x-rays are also cumulative: the more frequent the procedure, the higher the risk.
Under current Maine law, radiographers are licensed by the Radiologic Technology Board of Examiners. That board consists of “2 radiologists; 2 radiographers; one nuclear medicine technologist; one radiation therapist; one radiation physicist; and 2 public members as defined in Title 5, section 12004-A.” By contrast, the Board of Chiropractic Licensure, which licenses chiropractic assistants, consists of seven members, “5 of whom must be licensed chiropractors and must be, at the time of their appointment, actively engaged in the practice of their profession for a period of at least 3 years in this State. Two members must be public members as defined in Title 5, section 12004-A.” The Radiologic Technology Board decides the qualifications for radiographers, nuclear medicine technologists and radiation therapists. The Chiropractic Board decides the minimum qualifications for chiropractic assistants.
There are good safety and health reasons for requiring that radiographers be licensed. Chiropractic radiographers take x-rays of parts of the body that require the highest doses of radiation to be effective. If chiropractic assistants want to perform the duties of radiographers, they should be licensed as radiographers by the board that has the highest level of knowledge of radiography and the effects of radiation on the human body. This is not an area where the public would be well served or protected by relaxing the licensing requirements. The risks are too serious.
Thank you for considering the MMA’s perspective on LD 490, and I respectfully ask you to vote the bill “Ought Not to Pass.” I would be happy to respond to any questions you may have.