It is important to have an MRI safety program in place that involves and educates all staff members at your imaging facility. This can help minimize the potential accidents and life-threatening injuries to patients, technicians, and others in the vicinity. Below are some tips to help safeguard against preventable hazards at your practice.
Leadership & Training.
There should be a designated leader to effectively inform and educate all employees, new and current, on MRI safety precautions, especially around the sensitive magnet. The MRI safety program leader should also train all personnel who may have access to or near the magnet room such as security, housekeeping, and even firefighters.
Establishing Policies & Procedures.
You know what they say: Out of sight, out of mind… Avoid that from happening with your staff by clearly documenting MRI safety procedures and policies around your facility. This can also help facilitate the training program, minimize confusion, and help make MRI safety practices part of the work culture. Once you’ve implemented a safety program, don’t overlook it; trainings, walkthroughs and inspections should be recurring.
Preventing Magnetic Field Disasters.
The most common hazard associated with the MRI system is the combination of magnetic forces with flying ferrous objects. Not only is it dangerous for individuals near the magnet, ferromagnetic materials can also damage the magnet itself, which can result in very costly consequences. Patients and staff members should be thoroughly screened for metal objects and metal implants prior to entering the scan room. Proper site planning is also key in pinpointing potential hazardous zones around the facility. Please refer to page 12 of the MRI Buyers Guide for in depth details.
A top priority for imaging sites is to ensure a comfortable and safe experience for patients. Remember to keep your magnet room set at a temperature lower than 70 degrees – a warmer room does not equal a comfortable patient. Remember to use pads to space patients from coils and bore walls to avoid any discomfort or burns.
Protect Against Quenching.
Quenching is a possibility that can lead to serious injury. This occurs when there is a sudden boil-off of the entire volume of cryogenic liquid, which causes a rapid loss of the static magnetic field. To protect against quenching and other damages, be sure to keep your cooling system clean; stay on top of your MRI maintenance; exclude ferromagnetic materials from the vicinity of the magnet; schedule helium fills; monitor helium levels regularly; and always inspect your system. Call a professional promptly if you suspect anything.
Promote Cleanliness…Avoid Infections.
In addition to cleaning hands often in a hospital environment, it is just as important to ensure the bore, pads, coil, and room of an MRI are properly cleaned as well. According to the OSHA Healthcare Advisor, it is recommended that facilities implement a policy for infection control. Procedures may include mandatory hand washing/sanitization, cleaning any items that come in contact with patients, inspect and replace pads when necessary, promptly remove any body fluids, and always use extra caution if a patient has an open wound or infection.
Remember, the first step to ensuring your system is in a safe environment is to execute proper site planning.
If you have any questions or additional tips for safeguarding your MRI facility and equipment, call or drop me a line anytime!