Do We Celebrate This Record Year?

Yes, though we’ve got more than a full month’s worth of reports yet due, it turns out that 2008 is a record year for MRI safety!

No, I’m not talking about the year of record sales of ferromagnetic detection systems or the publication of no less than three MRI safety best practice guidance papers… What I’m talking about is the numbers of MRI accident reports to the FDA.

Yes, we’re on track to see roughly a 20% jump in reported MRI accidents from 2007 to 2008… and 2007 was already a record year!

But, hey, MRI utilization is growing… wouldn’t you expect accidents to grow, too?

Well, yes, if we weren’t making any progress towards reducing MRI accidents, I would expect the numbers of accidents to increase about 3%, the approximate rate of MRI utilization growth over the last several years. But to tack on an additional 17% growth in accidents above the number we’d expect to see, that, in a word, is STUNNING!

And if the anecdotal information about providers seeing patient volumes drying up in the wake of the financial crisis is statistically significant, we may wind up seeing little, if any, net growth in MRI utilization this year!

The technical, clinical and financial factors in MRI are all aligned to increase the risks to patients and caregivers. Quite simply, it isn’t sufficient to rely on the ‘status quo’ safety engine. If it were effective, we wouldn’t be seeing such dramatic growth in accidents, year after year, after year.

As we approach New Year’s Eve, I propose an industry-wide resolution. I propose that we unify behind the goal of making 2009 a zero-growth MRI accident year.

This sort of resolution will require more of each of us, more than what we thought was ‘adequate’ last year or the year before. This will require a serious commitment to ACR 4-zone protocols, labeling everything within zones III and IV with the current (and correct) ASTM nomenclature, careful identification of all implants and devices, code drills and, yes… my favorite… ferromagnetic detection systems.

So while we may enjoy the forthcoming New Year’s revelry, I urge you to take a moment to consider not simply your personal resolutions, but how you can be an active participant in ‘No More in ’09’ initiative to turn the tide of MRI accidents.

Tobias Gilk, President & MRI Safety Director
Mednovus, Inc.

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