MRI scanners are significant sources of revenue for healthcare providers in the US. However, they also create a high-risk environment that demands all possible precautions be taken to prevent injury to personnel and equipment.
THE RISKS OF MRI MAGNETIC FIELDS
The extreme strength of the magnetic field present in an MRI suite can cause ferromagnetic objects (alloys that exhibit extremely high magnetic permeability) to be attracted to the center of the magnet. This poses potentially life threatening, projectile-related hazards to patients, family members and staff and can cause expensive damage to the equipment.
TIPS TO MINIMIZE THE RISK OF FERROMAGNETIC DETECTION SYSTEMS (FMDs)
Ferromagnetic Detection Systems (FMDs), when in place (and used properly) identify ferromagnetic objects that pose a safety risk. FMDs come in a variety of forms and detect threats by monitoring the ambient magnetic field using magnetic sensors. Once the risk is understood, the next step is to determine the best way to incorporate such a detection system in your department or suite.
- The optimum solution is to screen everyone that enters the MRI suite before an exam. Once a metal object is identified, the next challenge is to find an efficient way to locate the object and to provide an alarm that indicates whether the object poses a risk. As part of all imaging department protocol, the patient is asked a series of questions relating to medical history and the possible existence of ferrous implants or other embedded objects (such as permanent pacemakers, cochlear implants or shell fragments.)
- TIP: FMDs can be a more reliable way to identify objects that pose a risk. It is a more effective technique, and often more accurate, than a patients memory. In addition, FMDs mitigate miscommunication due to language barriers. This screening can be positioned in the vicinity of the patient changing area.
- Screening does not stop at the patient. Family members that might accompany the patient are also subject to creating a risk. And staff members and other hospital personnel that have reason to enter the suite (such as service maintenance and housekeeping) who can also pose risks. Even though warning signage is posted, with the extent of distractions and multi-tasking today, even the most experienced technician can inadvertently walk into a suite carrying something that could be pulled from a lab pocket or scrub set.
- TIP: It is often recommended that the FMD be located at the entryway of the MRI suite, at the entry to Zone IV – so everyone entering the suite will be screened automatically. It is not recommended to place the FMD at the department entrance because only the people entering the MRI testing suite need to be screened.
The following FMD features are critical to effective screening:
- Ferrous object sensitivity
- Visibility of visual alarms
- Ability to identify the position of the ferrous object (as the individual is screened)
- Audible alarm systems being both effective and carefully designed to prevent alarm fatigue
- Ability to integrate FMD within RF Door entry package
New FMD technology now includes devices that recognizes travel direction and compensates for MRI door cycles. Methods to recording positive alarms that were ignored, are now or soon will be, available.
WHY USE FMDs?
Utilizing an FMD in the MRI environment is recommended by several influential organizations concerned with MRI safety, including the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the Joint Commission. In fact, ACR Accreditation for hospitals is soon expected to dictate use of the FMD in lieu of magnetic wands or paddles to find ferrous metals and objects on patients. Many states have also already adopted regulations via Federal Guidelines Institute (FGI) that hospitals must use FMDs for their Zone Control.
As a division of the largest dedicated Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) shielding company in the world, IMEDCO America has an established reputation for delivering MRI (RF) shielding packages optimized for each individual environment, including the sale and installation of Ferrous Metal Detection systems. Thanks to a collaborative effort with one of the leading designers and manufacturers of this equipment, Kopp Development, we have been able to integrate their FerrAlert™ Halo-series products in the IMEDCO RF Door entry frame keeping it visible, safe from damage otherwise sustained from wall-mounted designs and yet serviceable.
IMEDCO knows MRI shielding is not just a simple 6-sided, one-size-fits-all-solution. The design requires a clear understanding of existing or planned site conditions, user needs, constructibility, and physics (radio-frequency interference, magnetic field containment and acoustic noise impact) and now safety.
Professional service and expert support is our trademark. Call us today 317.773.8500.