News Release: Emory Healthcare , School of Medicine

Mar. 22,  2011

Echocardiography Lab at Emory University Hospital Midtown Receives Top National Accreditation

News Article ImageEcho Lab Team at Emory University Hospital Midtown

ATLANTA – For the third consecutive time, the echocardiography lab at Emory University Hospital Midtown (EUHM) is being highlighted for its excellence in high quality patient care and commitment to quality diagnostic testing.  

The Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Echocardiography Laboratories (ICAEL) is granting accreditation to the EUHM “echo lab” through 2013. The EUHM echo lab has been consistent in its high standards since 2004, when it received its first accreditation from the society. Accreditation lasts for a period of three years.  

“This accreditation shows our commitment and dedication to provide superb, quality care to our patients,” says John Merlino, MD, medical director of the echocardiography lab at EUHM and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology at Emory. “We believe these high standards that come with accreditation are not only beneficial to the patient, but also help us in recruiting the most expert staff to work here.”  

Echocardiography is a first-line imaging test using ultrasound to examine the heart’s movement. By providing pictures of the heart’s valves and chambers, the test can assess the heart’s size and function, which also determines the presence of many types of heart disease. The noninvasive test has become one of the standard diagnostic tools in cardiology, with an estimated 10 million echocardiograms performed annually in the United States.  

Throughout the state of Georgia, less than 25 hospitals are ICAEL-accredited.  

“More and more patients are seeking out centers with ICAEL accreditation to have their echocardiograms because many insurance companies are only covering tests by labs that are now accredited,” says Angela Sullivan, RCS, CCT, technical director of the echocardiography lab at EUHM. “Standards within ICAEL have significantly increased in the past year, making it even more challenging for echo labs to receive and maintain accreditation.”    

Echocardiography relies on the experience and training of both the physician and the sonographer, who performs the test. Their interpretative and technical abilities determine the diagnostic accuracy of an examination.  

With a staff of seven sonographers, EUHM performs an average of 7,500 echocardiograms annually. All seven sonographers are registered specifically in cardiac sonography (echocardiography) and have a combined 80 years of echocardiography experience, according to Sullivan. Additionally, the medical staff in the echo lab has a combined 86 years of echocardiography interpretation experience.  

Besides having a very active clinical practice, the EUHM echo lab is also involved in research. The lab is currently participating in 12 research projects at the hospital, with echo imaging being a vital part in the research.  

About the ICAEL:  

The ICAEL was incorporated in 1996 in response to the need for standardization and improvement of the quality of echocardiographic laboratories. ICAEL accreditation is defined by the intersocietal concept that all aspects of echocardiography are represented in the accreditation process. The American College of Cardiology, the American Society of Echocardiography, the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography and the Society of Pediatric Echocardiography support the ICAEL, while representatives from each organization help make up its board of directors, along with others.

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The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

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