How to Replace Nuclear Imaging Equipment Without Triggering an OSHPD Review

How to Replace Nuclear Imaging Equipment Without Triggering an OSHPD Review

Anyone who manages healthcare facilities or equipment in California is familiar with The California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, commonly referred to as OSHPD.

OSHPD is a state agency tasked with monitoring the construction and renovation of hospitals in California, and the regulations also address the seismic safety of new buildings.

What is OSHPD?

The origins of OSHPD date back to the Sylmar earthquake of 1971. Also referred to as the San Fernando Earthquake, this 6.6 magnitude quake was the largest seismic event in the previous 80 years. Over 60 people died as a result of the earthquake, and several hospitals were significantly damaged.

In 1973, The Alfred E. Alquist Seismic Safety Act was passed by the California legislature in response to the disaster. This law was used to establish The California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. The organization was created to establish seismic building safety standards for any hospital built after March 7, 1973.

Challenges with the Regulations

While OSHPD exists to protect patients, it also causes many challenges for hospitals. Today, the regulations extend far beyond new construction, and over the past 40 years, their scope has significantly expanded. Any change that a hospital wants to make in California is potentially subject to an OSHPD review.

Everything from updating an operating room suite to the purchase of a new MRI machine can trigger a review that ends up requiring retroactive modifications to electrical, flooring, lighting, signage, and more.

The review process can be cumbersome, and the average approval time is over 140 days. These rules add to the time, cost, and complexity of any renovation or purchase.

How Does OSHPD Affect Nuclear Imaging?

Many nuclear imaging departments in California face a problem: purchasing a new gamma, or SPECT camera can trigger an OSHPD review. When this happens, the cost of the camera becomes one of many expenditures required to bring the department up to code.

In many cases, these site updates can exceed the cost of the equipment – making the budgeting and purchase process much more complicated.

For example, let’s say you have a 12-year-old gamma camera and want to replace it. Your department submitted a budget request for the equipment and was approved for funding. The problem is that now you could be required to spend $1,000,000 in renovations to bring the imaging department and rooms affect by the purchase up to the current OSHPD code.

The result of this dynamic is that many hospitals that need to purchase equipment are unable to upgrade simply because they do not have the funds for both the equipment and the renovations required by the regulations.

What Nuclear Cameras are Exempt from OSHPD?

While most nuclear cameras are subject to OSHPD regulations, there are exceptions that do not require a formal review. The Digirad Ergo and Cardius C3 are both exempt from OSHPD regulations. The exemption from OSHPD is because these specific Digirad cameras have wheels, and are considered portable.

Many imaging departments in California have chosen to purchase the Ergo for general purpose nuclear studies and then leave it in a fixed location. The camera has portability built-in, but radiology managers can use it however works best for their department. The Cardius C3 is similar in that it also is portable but can be used as a fixed camera in a standard size patient room. The Cardius C3 is used to perform SPECT imaging and stress tests.

The bottom line is that you can upgrade or replace your general nuclear medicine camera with an Ergo, or your cardiac SPECT camera with a Cardius 3 without triggering an OSHPD review.

It’s one less thing to worry about and allows you to focus on the equipment – not the ramifications of improving your imaging capabilities. Digirad technology can enhance your diagnostic capabilities without the cost of OSHPD compliance.

The Digirad team in California has extensive experience dealing with how OSPHD regulations affect imaging departments. If you have questions about what is covered or how the rule could apply to your department, reach out.


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