Change is often difficult, especially when we’re asked to change the ways in which we do things and the change doesn’t appear to have any direct, personal benefit.
‘Employees will be required to park in “Lot K” beginning on September 1st.’
‘The company has switched health insurance providers and you will receive your new card in the mail in 4 – 6 weeks.’
‘All persons entering the MRI scanner room must successfully clear a ferromagnetic screening.’
Except that sometimes, things that don’t appear to be in our best interests in fact are to our personal benefit, and ferromagnetic detection is one of them.
First, let’s dispel the myth that ferromagnetic detection is somehow there to ‘grade’ the screening effectiveness of the Technologist. The fact is that most of the time when ferromagnetic material makes it through the screening process it is because the person bringing it failed to comply with instructions that they’d been given!
Yes, there are differences among Technologists and some are more thorough than others, going beyond the standard screening forms. But time and time again we find that projectile accidents are compliance lapses on the part of patients, visitors, contractors, transport, housekeeping, anesthesiology and the myriad of others who come to the MRI suite.
If you had a tool to verify that patients complied with your critical safety instructions, wouldn’t you want to use it?
So, ferromagnetic detection is – first and foremost – present to make sure that patients, staff and visitors comply with the MR Technologist’s instruction. An alarm on your ferromagnetic detector should be viewed as a patient compliance issue.
Second, ferromagnetic detectors help to protect Technologists (and medical directors, and radiology administrators) from liability. The civil lawsuit resulting from the death of the young boy in a 2001 MRI accident personally names the two Technologists and the medical director for the MRI provider. Even if they aren’t found to have any individual civil liability in the trial, they’ve already had a multi-million dollar lawsuit hanging over their heads for the last 6 years or so.
While the presence of a ferromagnetic detector won’t transform an MRI provider into a guaranteed accident-free site, when used effectively these instruments can dramatically improve compliance with the Technologist’s instructions and help reduce the likelihood of future ferromagnetic projectile / missile accidents.
Maybe there’s a silver lining to having to walk the extra two blocks from the newly designated employee parking lot or switching healthcare insurance companies (then again, maybe there isn’t), but there should be no question that ferromagnetic detectors are definitely in the best interests of Technologists, radiology administrators, and MRI medical directors.
Tobias Gilk, President & MRI Safety Director