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MRIs Are a Breeding Ground for Super Bugs Like MRSA

by Lynn Shapiro, Writer | October 22, 2008

In his paper, "Preventing Infection in MRI," Rothschild says that "the cleanliness of free-standing imaging centers and hospital radiology departments is crucial for reducing the spread of MRSA and other acquired infections." Following are 11 simple procedures that can prevent the spread of these infections.

1. Have a written infection control policy to include MRI cleaning procedures as well as the cleaning schedule and have it posted throughout the center.

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2. Implement a mandatory hand washing/hand sanitizing procedure between patient exams for technologists and any others who come into contact with patients.

3. Clean the MRI tables, inside the bore of the magnet, and any other items that come into contact with a patient. Infection control experts recommend this be done between each patient.

4. Clean all pads and positioners with an approved disinfectant. Infection control experts recommend cleaning after each patient.

5. Periodically inspect the pads with a magnifying glass, particularly at the seams, to identify fraying or tearing. If present, the pads should be replaced.

6. Regularly check all padding material with an ultraviolet ("black") light and make sure that any biological material detected on the pads can be removed.

7. Replace damaged or contaminated pads with new pads incorporating permanent antimicrobial agents.

8. Use pillows with a waterproof covering that is designed to be surface wiped. Replace pillows when their barrier is compromised.

9. Promptly remove body fluids and then surface disinfect all contaminated areas.

10. If a patient has an open wound or any history of MRSA or another infection:
a. All staff coming in contact with the patient should wear gloves and gowns. These barriers must be removed before touching other areas not coming in contact with the patient: door knobs, scanner console, computer terminals. etc.

b. The table and all the pads should be completely cleaned with disinfectant before the next patient is scanned, if it is not already being performed between every patient. For patients with any known infectious process, add 10-15 minutes onto the scheduled time to assure there is enough time to thoroughly clean the room and all the pads.

11. All furniture should be periodically cleaned. Ideal surfaces are: those that are waterproof and wipeable. Infection control experts recommend this be done between each patient.

About Peter Rothschild, MD

Dr. Rothschild, a radiologist, is one of the foremost Open MRI experts. He served as Medical Director of the research laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco, where he helped develop the first Open MRI scanner. He is the editor of the first textbook on Open MRI and has written papers on the topic. A popular lecturer, he speaks on MRI and its future. He is founder and president of Patient Comfort Systems Inc., a company devoted to patient comfort and safety.