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

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

Metrasens’ Roberson recommends implementing a four-zone model of access control, labeling objects for MR conditions, removing unneeded electrical conductors, requiring the use of hearing protection for everyone in the room and providing a minimum of one-centimeter space or padding between the patient and the active coil element.

The company claims that these practices could have prevented 74% of MR injuries reported in the FDA database.

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New regulations
ACR has published whitepapers outlining its MR safety recommendations for years, but this year the organization did something different. In April, it launched an MR safety manual that ACR-certified sites are required to follow.

The manual includes updates and new information that replaces all earlier versions of the ACR Guidance Document on MR Safe Practices. It addresses MR personnel, screening, gowning, full-stop and final check, special patient population considerations, implants, devices and objects, 7T and intraoperative MR environments, static magnetic fields and time-varying gradient and RF magnetic field-related issues.

Along the same lines, the Facility Guidelines Institute (FGI) put out new guidelines in 2018 that require a ferromagnetic detector in the MR room. The FGI Guidelines for Design & Construction of Hospitals is the most frequently-used minimum standard in the U.S. for healthcare and hospital design, according to Tobias Gilk, founder of Gilk Radiology Consultants, and a consultant for Metrasens.

“We’ve had customers come to us in a state of panic because they couldn’t get a certificate of occupancy on a new facility, because they did not comply with their building code,” said Kopp. “More and more hospitals are becoming aware that it would be a terrible situation to be in to have an incident that could have been prevented if they followed their state’s building codes.”

Part of the solution is ensuring the architects are aware of the law in that given state and how to implement it in their drawings. Every state’s building codes are unique and depend on whether they adopted the FGI guidelines and if so, which version.

“It’s not like electrical requirements, which is hospital-wide — there are a lot of unique requirements for MR and most people who only work on them occasionally might not know them,” said Kopp. “It’s not really their fault — it’s just the nature of the situation.”

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