Every year the ECRI Institute publishes their Top 10 health technology hazards, identifying the 10 most serious (and unintended) risks posed by our ever-increasing use of sophisticated medical devices to diagnose and treat patients. In November, the Institute released their 2010 watch list, which dedicated a Top 10 slot, and an entire page, to ferromagnetic projectiles in MRI.
The ECRI report references a publication from the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority that identified 148 reported cases of inadequate screening for ferromagnetic materials in 2008 in that state alone. Based on what we know about ferromagnetic material risks, my suspicion is that this 148 number is only a drop in the bucket of the actual rate.
Though, if we simply accept the 148 incidents, and multiply times 50 to get a rough approximation for the whole US, that indicates that we have 7,400 annual failed screenings for ferromagnetic material, each of which has the potential to injure patients, staff, or incapacitate a million-dollar MRI scanner.
What to do about this silent safety epidemic that is almost wholly avoidable? Well, it wouldn’t hurt to follow the recommendations of the ECRI Institute, number one of which is:
“Consider installing ferromagnetic detectors to screen patients and equipment. These are handheld wands and walk-through/wheel-through or walkby/ wheel-by detector systems positioned before the entrance to the MR environment.”
–‘2010 TOP 10 TECHNOLOGY HAZARDS,’ ECRI Institute
So, we can add the ECRI Institute to the chorus of voices that includes the ACR, VA, JCAHO, and MR safety experts that all call for ferromagnetic detection as a part of pre-MRI screening.
If you would like your own copy of the ECRI publication, they are graciously making it available as a free download from their website.
If you would like information on the Mednovus SAFESCAN® ferromagnetic detection products, these are available on the company’s website.Tobias Gilk, President & MRI Safety Director Mednovus, Inc. Tobias.Gilk@Mednovus.com www.MEDNOVUS.com