The topic of MRI safety is increasing in prominence among our clients at KGHP. The increased focus by The Joint Commission (TJC) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) have pushed the issue of MRI safety to the forefront. Given the headlines around MRI safety to date, including the tragic death of a young child in 2001, the ACR convened several panels of experts to decide on best practices in MRI safety, most recently in 2013. At KGHP, we have taken those best practices, combined with our experience in testing and training at over 125 MRI sites, to highlight our 10 most important tips with respect to making your MRI facility safer.
Read a condensed version of our 10 MRI Safety Tips for Best Practices below, or download the full whitepaper here.
1. Remember MRI Incidents are Largely Preventable
Most incidents occur not because of malfunctioning equipment or an unknown issue with the equipment, but rather because of lack of vigilance and training of personnel in the facility.
2. Lack of Ionizing Radiation in MRI Doesn’t Mean 100% Safe
The lack of ionizing radiation does not eliminate the risk of injury, or even death, as a result of using MRI. It is imperative that all personnel coming in contact with MRI appreciate the potential risks associated with MRI.
3. Follow the Signs
Lack of appropriate signage was the most frequent “Request for Improvement” in diagnostic imaging cited by Joint Commission surveyors between July 2015 and March 2017. Approximately 22% (47 out of 216 items) of the RFIs related to inadequate signage.
4. Ongoing Training is the Key
The greatest tool for enhancing a compliance and safety culture is training. While many MR professionals have appropriate training, because of high turnover and use of temporary workers in some facilities, there are often many new people coming into contact with MRI who may lack such knowledge.
5. Safety Starts with Screening
Screening of patients and personnel before they enter Zones 3 and 4 is a critical step in the process. Serious injuries can occur when patients who may have ferrous materials in or on their bodies enter those zones.
6. Projectiles are Not the Only Risks
While the most publicized incidents included flying projectiles, they are not the only risks related to MRI. Thermal injuries from interactions with ferrous elements on or in patients, hearing injuries related to the sound of the MRI machine and adverse reactions to contrast used in MRI are other important sources of risk.
7. Be Hyper-Vigilant During Emergencies
During an emergency, there is an increased likelihood of non-MR personnel (police, firefighters, etc.) coming into contact with restricted MR zones.
8. Quench or Not-to-Quench: Know the Answer
Historically, the understood guidance in the MRI world is that “quenching the magnet” (instigating a process to demagnetize the MRI) is never advised.
9. Promote a Just Culture
The idea of a “just culture” in healthcare moves organizations away from focusing on the individual and punishing for errors, and instead focuses on systems and organizational learning that can help all employees make fewer errors.
10. Periodically Review Your Entire MRI Safety Program
The work of MRI safety is never complete. MRI safety requires constant vigilance and ongoing training to keep the MRI environment safe for patients and personnel. Given the changing landscape and focus on MRI safety, it is critically important that facilities periodically review their programs for potential areas of improvement.
For additional information related to MRI safety and to learn more about KGHP’s MRI Safety Audit service, please contact Krueger-Gilbert Health Physics at 410.339.5447 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.