Tag Archives: VA

Colombini, Codes, Metal Detectors And MRI Safety

Go grab yourself a cup of coffee before you continue… this is going to be a long (for me, anyway) rant.

Ready? OK…

Let’s start at the very beginning (“what a very good place to start”). Click To Read The Whole Story…

MRI And Metal

Many people just learning about MRI safety and hazards ask very similar questions. One of most frequent is, “why do I have to remove all metal before an MRI,” or it’s corollary, “can I get an MRI with some metal on (or in) me?” To answer these questions, let’s start at the very beginning… What A Very Good Place To Start… (Click Here)

MRI Safety Planning Season

Ahh the four seasons… Winter, Spring, Summer, and MRI Safety Planning.

What, you’ve only heard it referred to as ‘Autumn‘ before? Well, that’s not terribly surprising. We’re so inundated with honorary days, weeks, and even months, that the season of MRI Safety Planning fails to get its fair share of media time. But here’s why MRI Safety Planning season should be tops on your list right now.

First, while there is a growing awareness of MRI Safety Week, a single week doesn’t really afford the time needed to plan for improvements to MRI safety. Real improvements come from refinements in operations and process, coupled with effective tools and training. That sort of interdisciplinary approach often requires more than a couple days to put together.

Second, MRI Safety Week falls in the middle of summer when budget-wrangling loses the attention-span battle to thoughts of barbecues and coco-butter suntan lotion. It is precisely now, when so many organizations are hammering out their financial priorities for next year’s budget, that MRI safety planning should be in full-swing.

By combining the operations planning with the budgeting, you can reap some real multi-task benefits from these synergistic efforts, and – buoyed by the support of our whole Mednovus organization – I’m here to help you make it as productive as possible.

When making your MRI safety plans, it’s important to know what new criteria are going to be expected of your facility. Accrediting bodies are all looking at MRI safety in a new way, and this is starting with the Joint Commission’s Environment of Care requirements, effective January of 2009.

There is also the flurry of recent MRI safety Best-Practice recommendations from a number of documents, all of which should be part of the Administrator / Technologist library of reference materials. One common element to the Joint Commission’s Sentinel Event Alert #38, the ACR’s Guidance Document for Safe MR Practices, and the recent Veterans Administration MRI Design Guide, is the recommendation for the use of ferromagnetic detection (see below).

While ferromagnetic detection systems can be readily incorporated into both new and operational MRI facilities with minimal muss & fuss, even the most easily-installed and cost-effective systems typically require advanced budgetary planning.

The upshot? Please start thinking today about your planned MRI safety improvements for 2009 and budget accordingly.

Whether you’re considering the newly-released Mednovus Sentinel® GS 2.0 portals (both the 24-inch Patient Sentinel® GS 2.0 and the 48-inch Entry Sentinel® GS 2.0) or our SAFESCAN® hand-held Target Scanner™ (or the optimal combination of both), it would be a privilege to be at your service.

We at Mednovus are delighted to announce our new association with Siemens Medical Solutions, a world leader in MR imaging, and we encourage you to contact your local Siemens sales rep to get product quotes for your budgeting purposes. Alternatively, simply let us know where you are located, and we will put you in touch with the appropriate Mednovus product expert from Siemens’ national accessories division. Contact us soon so that we can arm you with the information you need to secure MRI safety improvements in next year’s budget.

Yes! Please put me in touch with the right Siemens’ accessories product expert!

By reviewing your current MRI safety protocols against published best-practices, and soon-to-be accreditation standards, you can prioritize the areas for improvement in 2009. In many cases, no-cost operational changes will help you achieve your goals, but whether it’s a new MRI-friendly infusion pump, improved signage, or the thrice-recommended ferromagnetic detector, you will probably need to have a few MRI safety line-items in next year’s budget.

Please contact us if we can be of any assistance in helping you with your observances of MRI Safety Planning season.

Tobias Gilk, President & MRI Safety Director
Mednovus, Inc.
Tobias.Gilk@Mednovus.com
www.MEDNOVUS.com

New Joint Commission Environment of Care (EC) Requirements

Starting in January of 2009, the drought of MRI safety regulation will begin to end.

It surprises many that the Joint Commission has no specific MRI safety accreditation standards. Surveys of accredited MRI providers have, over the past many years, focused largely on general safety standards, adapted for the MRI environment. Historically, a surveyor’s check for a non-magnetic portable fire extinguisher was the only MRI-specific safety check provided by the Joint Commission.

Despite the fact that many MRI-specific safety articles, recommendations, and, most recently, Sentinel Event #38 have been offered by the Joint Commission and its allied Joint Commission Resources educational arm, there have not previously been specific MRI safety standards for accreditation, and it is only through the new Environment of Care requirements that MRI safety will become an implicit standard for Joint Commission accredited facilities.

Starting this coming January 2009, inpatient and outpatient accredited facilities will need to abide by the new Risk Management provisions of the Joint Commission Environment of Care standard. The Standards Improvement Initiative will require facilities to prospectively define the physical hazards within the facility and develop specific responses to manage and mitigate those hazards.

The new standard specifically cites Sentinel Event Alerts as one external reference that must be considered in defining risks. For MRI, this automatically means Sentinel Event Alert #38. And since SEA #38 draws so heavily from the ACR Guidance Document for Safe MR Practices: 2007, it only follows that the ACR Guidance Document is the underlying industry standard document for defining MRI safety. Another external reference that specifically addresses MRI physical hazards which should be used as a basis for risk analysis is the VA MRI Design Guide.

What do Sentinel Event Alert #38, the ACR Guidance Document, and the VA MRI Design Guide all recommend? Well, lots of common elements, actually, but one of the key recommendations is for the use of ferromagnetic screening (click here to download a PDF document that outlines many of the recent recommendations for ferromagnetic detection).

While it is starting with the Joint Commission Environment of Care, my expectation is that MRI-specific patient safety requirements will spread to other accreditation requirements, building codes, and standards of practice. This will include not just recommendations, but requirements for the use of ferromagnetic detection for MRI pre-screening.

Over the next few months, all Joint Commission accredited MRI providers will need to review the standards of practice in the ACR Guidance Document for MR Safe Practices. Specific actions must be taken to identify, document, and respond to the unique hazards in the MR environment. One of those immediate actions should be planning for ferromagnetic detection at your MRI facility.

If you have any questions about the new MRI safety standards, the best-practice recommendations for ferromagnetic equipment siting, and incorporating these vital safety instruments in your MRI screening practices, I recommend that you heed the advice of the ACR Guidance Document, the VA MRI Design Guide, and other safety practice documents. If you still have questions about these standards, I invite you to contact me.

Tobias Gilk, President & MRI Safety Director
Mednovus, Inc.
Tobias.Gilk@Mednovus.com
www.MEDNOVUS.com

“Ferromagnetic Detection? Yeah, Who Says So?”

For those in the unenviable role of having to make tough decisions about which safety features to invest in and which to forgo, one key factor to these decisions is compliance.

For those administrators stuck between ‘legal liability’ and ‘budgetary constraints’, sometimes the decision of which safety improvement to invest in has a lot to do with who recommends (expects) it. Regulatory compliance is an imperfect litmus test of safety, to be sure, but like it or not, when the accrediting bodies speak, people listen. In the past year there has been a growing chorus of accrediting and regulating bodies that have all called for ferromagnetic detection in MRI patient screening.

Let’s start at the very beginning (“What a very good place to start.”), with last summer’s publication of the ACR Guidance Document for Safe MR Practices: 2007…

“[F]erromagnetic detection systems are currently available that are simple to operate, capable of detecting even very small ferromagnetic objects external to the patient, and now, for the first time, differentiating between ferromagnetic and nonferromagnetic materials. While the use of conventional metal detectors is not recommended, the use of ferromagnetic detection systems is recommended as an adjunct to thorough and conscientious screening of persons and devices approaching Zone IV.” [Emphasis mine.]

Just a few months later, the UK’s MHRA released their 2007 MHRA Device Bulletin – Safety Guidelines for Magnetic Resonance Imaging Equipment, which included ferromagnetic detection in the document’s MR Suite Recommendations section. In the MHRA document, a two-stage ferromagnetic screening process is recommended, one near the door to the MRI room for large threats and a patient screening, capable of finding even smaller threats…

“As well as reducing the likelihood of small projectile incidents, the systems are designed to reduce the likelihood of an MRI scan having to be repeated e.g. due to the presence of an object distorting the MRI scan image.”

In February of 2008 the Joint Commission added their thoughts with something of an omnibus MRI safety Sentinel Event Alert (their highest patient safety alert). The top recommendations of the SEA included access controls and enhanced screening for threats…

“Use trained personnel to screen all non-emergent patients twice, providing two separate opportunities for them to answer questions about any metal objects they may have on them, any implanted devices, drug delivery patches, tattoos, and any electrically, magnetically, or mechanically activated devices they may have… [U]se other means to determine if the patient has implants or other devices that could be negatively affected by the MRI scan (e.g., look for scars or deformities, scrutinize the patient’s history, use plain-film radiography, use ferromagnetic detectors to assist in the screening process, etc.).” [Emphasis mine.]

And most recently, earlier in July of this year, the US Veterans Administration released a sweeping revision to their MRI Design Guide which offers design input on technical, operational and safety factors for MRI suites. The new MRI Design Guide covers a LOT of material, but included in its provisions is the use of ferromagnetic detection screening for all persons approaching the MRI magnet…

It is recommended that MRI facilities install ferromagnetic detection systems for use in screening persons and equipment entering Zones III and IV to interdict potential threat objects.” [Emphasis mine.]

For the moment, this chorus of official recommendations are not yet requirements, but that is about to change. The Joint Commission is said to be implementing a new risk-management requirement for accredited facilities which will demand that Joint Commission accredited facilities perform their own risk analysis using, as one of the criteria, the Joint Commission’s own Sentinel Event Alerts. Accredited MRI providers will need to demonstrate how it is that they provide quality-control review and redundancy of their MRI screenings.

The ACR’s MR Accreditation Committee is also entertaining a formal request to incorporate safety provisions of the ACR’s Guidance Document as a part of ACR MR Accreditation. Both the form and timeline of any changes in ACR accreditation are, as yet, unknown, but the current chair of the MR Accreditation Committee, Dr. A. Joseph Borelli, believes strongly in the principles of the Guidance Document.

So if the decision to embrace ferromagnetic detection or postpone it is influenced by what the regulatory / accrediting bodies think of it, the message is quite clear… ferromagnetic detection helps make a positive impact on patient safety and its use, at least among these four agencies, is universally called for.

Tobias Gilk, President & MRI Safety Director
Mednovus, Inc.
Tobias.Gilk@Mednovus.com
www.MEDNOVUS.com

VA Calls For Ferromagnetic Detection In New Design Guide

The last time the United States Veterans Administration issued an update to their MRI Design Guide was 1996, which seems to be about 50 years in the MRI world. Just this past week, however, they made up for lost time and did so in a big way!

The new VA MRI Design Guide takes a quantum leap in addressing new technologies, new clinical practices and new tools and tactics for enhancing the safety of patients and staff. One of these new strategies includes the use of ferromagnetic detection systems for MRI patient screening.

The new Design Guide is fully downloadable in PDF form in four individual sections from the VA’s website:

http://www.va.gov/facmgt/standard/dg_imag.asp

Or, you can download the complete document, rolled into one PDF, from the Mednovus website:

http://www.Mednovus.com/downloads/VA_MRI_Design_Guide-08.pdf

The VA joins a growing list of professional bodies, accrediting agencies and organizations recommending the use of ferromagnetic detection for patient screening.

In a forthcoming entry I’ll feature quotes from and links to these various standards calling for the use of ferromagnetic detection to enhance MRI patient screening.

Regards,

Tobias Gilk, President & MRI Safety Director
Mednovus, Inc.
Tobias.Gilk@Mednovus.com
www.MEDNOVUS.com