This week the settlement documents were released — closing the chapter on the lawsuit that arose from the seminal event in MRI safety, the 2001 oxygen tank fatality of then-six-year-old Michael Colombini.
Yesterday I was provided a copy of an anonymized MRI accident / incident report which described how an MRI patient wearing a ThermaCare HeatWrap (something of a self-warming patch for muscle aches) had the wrap pulled off of them by the magnetic attraction of the MRI.
Yes, I think I’ve written at least twice before about the imminent start of the trial for the civil lawsuit stemming from the Michael Colombini fatal MRI accident in 2001. And, yes, I was wrong both times before. So, I would expect nothing less than readers of this entry to take my 3rd prognostication of the start of the trial with something more than a grain of salt… perhaps an entire salt lick! But today a little birdie told me that there’s a hole in the otherwise-booked New York Supreme Court trial schedule for late October / early November and the Colombini trial may just fit right in there.
Last month, the judge in the Michael Colombini lawsuit (the case resulting from the infamous death by oxygen tank / cylinder brought into the MRI room while the boy was in the scanner) decided on three of the last outstanding pre-trial motions. The Judge’s decisions appear to have excused one defendant, entirely, and tempered the degree of potential liability for others.
Once again, we’re approaching the anniversary date of the most infamous MRI fatality and the corresponding MRI Safety Week. This year, through the in-kind support of my employer, Mednovus, I’m able to make available a MRI safety quiz (actually, it’s two quizzes, one for radiology / MR staff and one for the MRI layperson).
One of the most oft-cited rationalizations for not complying with contemporary best practices that call for using ferromagnetic detection (FMD) for MRI pre-screening is that ‘FMD doesn’t catch anything that existing screening protocols aren’t meant to catch.’ What you may find surprising about this statement is that I agree with it wholeheartedly… I would just change the inflection a bit. I would say it more like…
Ferromagnetic detection doesn’t catch anything that existing screening protocols aren’t meant to catch.
That inflection makes a world of difference, as you’ll see in just a moment…
In a word, ‘Yes,’ but not by the conventional ways that imaging providers are accustomed to...
Would using ferromagnetic detection (FMD), to add a new and effective layer of pre-MRI screening, be reimbursed? What I mean is, is there a CPT code to get paid back for providing this additional service?
No, but the lack of a CPT code has little to do with the fact that using FMD can contribute, directly, to an MRI provider’s bottom-line. In fact, there are two concrete ways, off of the top of my head, that I know have provided financial ‘payback’ to users of ferromagnetic detection systems.
Ferromagnetic detection for pre-MRI screening is disruptive. Not that it slows down your patient throughput (it doesn’t), or that it makes imaging problematic (it doesn’t do that, either), but it does provide an entirely new type of feedback that MR staff and Technologists have never had before. It tells us whether subjects are actually listening to the self-screening instructions we’ve been giving for years. These instruments, more precisely the feedback that they provide, does take a little getting used to. The introduction of ferromagnetic detection is often met with 5 steps towards acceptance…
A few weeks ago I posted my layperson’s summary of why there’s even an issue with metal and MRI (click here to read that post on MRI and Metal). In this posting, I hope to explain why it’s so critical to find metals, particularly ferromagnetic metals, being carried by people or inside objects.
A very common question asked about ferromagnetic detection systems is, “will it find __________ [insert the object of your choice: pacemaker, cell phone, pocket knife, intra-orbital fragments…]?” Funny, but in the hundreds, if not thousands, of times that question has been posed to me, never once has it been, “will it find a nail I stuck in my nose 30 years ago?”