2010 ‘Guidelines’ Healthcare Building Code To Have MRI Safety Requirements

“Tweet, tweet” is usually all I hear from little birdies… but one little bird that flew past my office recently had a surprisingly large vocabulary and told me of new requirements that will be introduced in the forthcoming 2010 update to the ‘Guidelines for Design and Construction of Health Care Facilities’ (commonly referred to as ‘Guidelines’).

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Guidelines, they are the design requirements that are cited by the Joint Commission and, at last count, 42 of the 50 U.S. State Departments of Health. Technically, they aren’t a building code, but the function in almost the exact same way. For the first time, the Guidelines are going to have specific MRI suite design requirements for patient safety.

2010 Guidelines

2010 Guidelines

The 2010 edition of the Guidelines are purported to codify the single most often cited MRI suite safety design criteria, the 5-gauss line (or three-dimensional bubble, more accurately). The design must necessarily control access to locations where the static magnetic field is present at strengths of 5-gauss or more.

the 2010 Guidelines will also define situational-awareness requirements for suite layouts. These will include a requirement that the patient can be seen inside the scanner from the operators’ console location, and that the operator has direct visual control of the entrance to the MR scanner room.

The unique challenges of infection control and handwashing in the MRI environment are also explicitly addressed, for the first time, in the new Guidelines.

And one of my favorite provisions is the new requirement that MRI suites be designed to follow the ACR 4-Zone model for screening and access controls, including ferromagnetic detection systems!

The Guidelines publication is undergoing a significant organizational overhaul along with the regular content update, so I don’t have specific section citations to where the new MRI safety design requirements will be (though MRI probably won’t have the same section numbers as the current, 2006, edition has). My understanding, however, is that the publication will be released on schedule in January, so it is only a very short time until we can verify the specific contents and section numbers.

It is particularly encouraging that these new requirements validate what the some of the best MRI providers have been doing for years. Clearly MRI site-safety, including ferromagnetic detection, can no longer be regarded as simply “a good idea.” With the 2010 edition of Guidelines, we will have one more codified example of how these elements are truly part of the contemporary standard of care.

If you would like more information about the Guidelines, including information on how to order a copy of the document, please click here.

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

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