Chapter 1: How Standards Are Created

The Enforcement of Standards

For laws to be effective, statutes and regulations must be enforceable, but also have due process for individuals who might be investigated for not complying with the law. This section describes how suspected noncompliance with licensure laws can be investigated, adjudicated and penalized.

When you review your state’s radiologic technologist licensure law (statutes and regulations) you will notice certain provisions specify what acts are considered violations, how they will be addressed and reviewed, and what the penalties are for technologists who are found to have violated the law. Most frequently, proceedings regarding noncompliance with professional licensure or professional conduct are considered “administrative law.”

Standards exist for education, certification, licensure and practice of radiologic technologists. Educational program standards are determined by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). The JRCERT has policies and procedures for inspecting, accrediting and withdrawing accreditation from educational programs. If accreditation is withdrawn, graduates from the educational program are not qualified to sit for certification examinations or state licensure. Certification organizations, such as the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), have policies and procedures for exam administration, requirements for maintaining certification and processes for removing an individual’s professional certification. If a radiologic technologist is not certified, he or she might not be able to work in certain states or facilities, which limits employment opportunities. Licensure is the legal ability conferred upon an individual to practice a certain profession after meeting specific qualifications. Removal of the license removes the individual’s ability to legally practice. Existence of penalties for illegal practice of the profession and the ability to levy these penalties after due process is called enforcement or enforceability. Depending on the provisions contained in the licensure law, enforcement could result in a criminal penalty (e.g., imprisonment or punitive fines paid if guilty) or civil penalty (i.e., restitution paid to the state or agency for damage to the state by breaking the law).

Each licensure body must follow a set process, usually prescribed by the state attorney general’s office, for investigating incidences in which the licensure law might not have been followed and deciding the guilt or innocence of the licensee. The licensure statute or the regulations governing the licensure program usually include the process that must be followed. During this process, the defendant has the opportunity to respond to charges, introduce or refute evidence, produce witnesses and have counsel present. Because the individual’s livelihood or ability to work in the state might be affected by the outcome, this process is similar to a legal trial.

For licensure to be effective, it must be enforceable with clear due process and penalties for noncompliance. Without enforceability, licensure is merely a guideline to follow, not a metric of professional standards that must be upheld.