MR safety evolves as hospitals grapple with COVID-19 and new regulations

por Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | September 14, 2020
MRI Risk Management
From the September 2020 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

There has been a growing interest in implementing safety-conscious organizational approaches within imaging departments, according to Barwick. These approaches encourage reporting and the use of comprehensive root cause analysis procedures.

“These fundamental changes encourage a continuous improvement mindset which we have seen adopted by several of the leading imaging departments around the country,” he added. “On the other hand, we still hear of far more off the record adverse events than those that are actually documented and reported, so there is a lot of room for growth on this.”

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Kopp thinks that this rise in adverse events is the result of a variety of factors from the increase in scanning acute patients to the age of the modality. MR has been around for about 30 years and there tends to be an attitude of complacency when a technology is around that long, he said.

But he believes that one of the biggest factors is the design of the MR magnet itself. With the original magnets, if someone had something ferrous in their hand, they would feel a gentle tug that grew stronger as they neared the magnet.

“The newer magnets have very effective active shielding, so you could be walking in with scissors in your hand and you won’t feel anything until you hit a certain point in the slope of the magnet that goes up dramatically,” said Kopp. “At that point, if you take another step, before you can get a tighter grip on what you’re holding, it’s out of your hand and flying into the magnet.”

What can be done about this?
Fortunately, facilities can avoid the potential for adverse events by following a few best practices. For starters, a rigorous screening process needs to be put in place for patients and anyone else entering the MR room.

If safety products such as screeners, hand-held devices or physical barrier systems are used, the facility needs to ensure that staff members are trained on how to properly use those different types of devices.

Joel Kellogg
“Anytime they are designing a new facility or upgrading a facility, they have to really engage a safety expert or a company that sells safety products that will partner with them to work that into their processes and procedures so that they are effective,” said Kellogg.

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