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New solutions, better training and regulation for reducing MR adverse events

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | September 12, 2022
MRI
From the September 2022 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Staffing shortages, an increase in imaging volume and a lack of standardization in training are just a few of the factors contributing to an increasingly dire predicament in the MR suite. HealthCare Business News checked in with some of the leading experts and vendors to find out why the situation is becoming so serious, and what can be done to improve safety and reduce adverse events at your facility.

“The thing that stands between those growing risks and a catastrophe is the vigilance of MR technologists,” said Tobias Gilk, a former chair of the American Board of Magnetic Resonance Safety (ABMRS). “As we put more and more strain on them and continue to ratchet up the risk factors, it's not a question of if, but of how terrible it will be when some horrific MR accident makes the news again.”

An accident in 2001 led to the death of a six-year-old boy whose skull was crushed after a metal oxygen tank was pulled into the MR bore. The cause of the tragedy was found to be a combination of communication failures and non-MR staff having access to the suite at Westchester Medical Center.

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Although that was over 20 years ago, a look at FDA reports classified as “MR adverse events” shows that safety concerns are not in our rearview mirror. Gilk noted that accident rates have been growing at about two and a half to three times the rate of MR procedure volume since 2000.

“Fortunately, the number of MR accidents is still quite small, but if the growth in that is three times the growth in procedure volume, that is unsustainable,” said Gilk. “If we continue on the current course, we are going to wind up injuring and killing people in the United States with accidents that are completely avoidable, as almost all MR accidents and injuries are.”

Training is part of the answer
Only a handful of states have requirements for MR training and all that is needed is registered radiologic technologist RT(R) credentials. Gilk believes that one way to address the issues with MR safety is to rethink the model of how MR technologists are trained.

“We need a broader application of developing MR technologists who are purposely trained for working in MR and do it in a smarter way,” he added. “I think that we can bring those talented and competent MR techs to the employment market faster.”

Fortunately, the industry is making strides in this area. A company called ScanLabMR has developed a new method for MR training that leverages imaging simulation software to improve and assess clinical competence and scan quality.

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