The potential for adverse events is rising in the MR suite

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | September 20, 2021
From the September 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

New ACR requirement adds to burden
To make matters more complicated, the American College of Radiology (ACR) came out with a new requirement that puts even more of a burden on MR departments and facilities.

ACR published an update to its MR safety manual in May 2020 requiring a minimum of two technologists or one technologist and an individual with the designation “MR personnel” in the MR room.
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“Facilities are having a hard time meeting that,” said Keith Kopp, president of Kopp Development Inc., a company that manufactures MR safety products. “Staffing has always been a recommendation, but it’s a stronger recommendation now that’s requiring more people, and hospitals are reluctant to do that for a lot of reasons, like cost and availability.”

In response to the MR technologist shortage, the industry is trying to recruit technologists from other modalities such as CT, ultrasound and X-ray. These technologists have to be trained in MR safety, which sometimes comes with a steep learning curve.

Some essential training can be conducted immediately by watching videos, reading articles and taking online classes. However, according to Gregg Daversa, vice president of business development at West Physics, MR safety involves a lot of learning through experience and it can take months or sometimes years for a technologist to get up to a very proficient level.

“Factors impacting MRI safety are constantly changing and the MR technologists need to constantly keep up with changes presented by the patients, medical device implants, ancillary medical equipment and physical environments,” said Daversa.

One of the online classes West Physics currently offers is a 2.5-hour course for physicians, technologists and ancillary medical staff on MR level two safety training in accordance with ACR and Joint Commission requirements.

Technology can take on some of the burden
The Joint Commission requires data to be collected on incidents in which ferromagnetic objects unintentionally enter the MR room, but it is not always easy for MR technologists to comply with that mandate. As fewer technologists take on a greater scope of responsibilities, there is little time left to log these events. Kopp Development has a product called the FerrAlert Ferromagnetic Incident Log Manager (FILM) to help automate this process.

The system is located in the doorway of the MR room and works by automatically logging when a ferromagnetic object enters. It captures a sequence of images to show what led up to it entering the room and what the technologist did about it. The company has recently added features to track if the MR room door is being closed and a pause button to allow the technologist to bring in a patient monitor without setting off the alarm.

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