I apologize for my unusually long hiatus from posting. I’d love to tell you that I haven’t written because I’ve been so extraordinarily busy putting the final touches on a set of meaningful standards which will effectively protect the 30,000,000 (that’s million) annual MRI patients in the U.S. from the most frequent preventable MRI injuries. I’d love to tell you that, but it’d be a lie… Continue reading
Those who know me know that I’m an upbeat person. Not the spring-out-of-be-fifteen-minutes-before-the-alarm-“so-happy-to-greet-the-morning” type of upbeat, but more of an indefatigable cautious-optimism. Yes, there are bad days… days when I’d just prefer to pull the covers over my head to wait to see if next week Thursday offers enough to coax me out of bed. But I’m of the firm belief that – on those days – you have to drag your sorry butt out of bed and put one foot in front of the other, if for no other reason than you might forget how if you skip a day. Someday, no matter how distant or unlikely, you will meet your goal.
Guess what? Today is one of my somedays! Continue reading
I’m not big on New Years’ resolutions. In fact, I’ve previously resolved to not resolve… but today I’m breaking that vow (or would that be a ‘disavow’?). This year there are just too many things precariously poised — that could fall our way or not — that I can’t help but to resolve to rededicate myself to making substantive changes to industry standards and practices for MR safety, and here’s how I’m going to do it…
Make no mistake, Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF), a horrible (and thankfully very rare) disease which can afflict persons with significantly impaired kidney function who receive certain gadolinium based MRI contrast agents. Over the past few years, tremendous resources have been poured into the identification of patients, research on the specific mechanisms of disease, and effective means of prevention. NSF has run into a problem, however, which has dramatically curtailed further research… we’ve darn-near eliminated this disease!
First, let me say that this isn’t a ‘leak’ in the sense that none of the information I’m about to share is (any longer) confidential. This information is all public record as a result of court filings for the now-settled civil suit surrounding the 2001 MRI fatality of Michael Colombini. There are documents associated with that civil lawsuit which did not wind up as filings with the court and therefore are not a part of the public record. I have no difficulty not releasing those because (among other reasons) I don’t have any of them.
“Why — now — ten years later would you post these documents?”
Excellent question! Here’s why I didn’t publish these long ago…
I stumbled across a paper abstract from the International Journal of Medical Physics Research and Practice. The abstract described a meeting on radiation oncology safety which, “attracted 400 attendees, including medical physicists, radiation oncologists, medical dosimetrists, radiation therapists, hospital administrators, regulators, and representatives of equipment manufacturers. The meeting was cohosted by 14 organizations in the United States and Canada.”
Damn! I’m impressed, particularly since the abstract also states that this meeting was hastily called in response to articles appearing, starting in January of this year, in the New York Times on radiology and radiation therapy accidents. Such a coordinated response by the professional societies. Such representation from the professional community at a time when conference and professional development budgets are being slashed. How does this compare with MRI?
Make no mistake, I believe that healthcare has a special obligation to protect the well being of our patients, our beneficiaries, our charges. When it comes to radiology, nuclear medicine and radiation therapy (where treating the patient involves sticking them in an astoundingly complex machine and exercising advanced concepts in physics to have a computer reconstruct fragments of data into an intelligible picture)… well its just so damned complicated that we have to assume the full responsibility for patient safety because, under those circumstances, it is wholly unreasonable to expect the patient to be active participants in their own safety.
This, in essence, is the entirety of point-of-care safety standards for MRI.
“Hey, you, MR technologist! Make sure you know what you’re supposed to know to keep people safe around MRI.“
Make no mistake, as someone who spent a decade in college (which included a Masters degree and about half of a 2nd Bachelors), I’m a huge fan of education. What I’m adamantly opposed to – when it comes to MRI safety – is education without any standards or benchmarks, which is precisely where we find ourselves today.
Color me flattered! (which I think is the color of that shirt in the illustration)
The UK edition of Wired magazine just ran one of their ‘featurettes’ on this blog and picked their favorite (though, that’s a slightly squint word-choice for potentially deadly accidents) types of projectile accidents. Quote’s from — and a direct link to — the article follow.
Last year I highlighted an FDA MRI accident report in which a technologist had to have a pair of scissors surgically removed from his forehead after they’d caught him between the magnet-homing missile that they became, and the isocenter of the MRI. You may remember that I fauxtoshopped a hypothesis as to what that accident would have looked like on plain film: perhaps something like this… Click For More On What This Accident Was Like…